Affluent  Report  More Cruises on Royal Caribbean and Carnival than Other Brands


Contrary to conventional wisdom, the affluent were most likely to name Royal Caribbean and Carnival as the brands cruised during the past five years in a new survey by the American Affluence Research Center of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households.

The 11.4 million households represented by this survey have a minimum net worth of $800,000 and an average income of over $260,000 and thus can easily afford premium and luxury brand cruises and top accommodations on the contemporary cruise lines.

The top 5 brands named (and the percent of affluent cruisers naming each brand) for cruises taken during the past 5 years were Royal Caribbean (30%), Carnival (24%), Princess (20%), Celebrity (16%) and Norwegian and Holland America (tied at 15%).

Of the 4 luxury brands (Crystal, Regent, Seabourn, and Silversea) listed in the survey, one was not named at all and 3 were named by 3% to 5% of the affluent cruisers. Each 1% equals over 52,000 households or more than 100,000 cruisers.

“This diversity of cruise brands named by the affluent suggests great sales potential for travel agents and cruise lines of all types” according to Ron Kurtz, President of American Affluence Research Center.

Kurtz added “this survey validated previous estimates in our surveys of about 3.5 million annual affluent cruisers across contemporary, premium, and luxury categories. These estimates, which have been met with some skepticism in the industry, demonstrate the opportunity for luxury and premium brands to increase their business among the affluent and for travel agents to sell up with higher priced accommodations, longer cruises, and more upscale brands”.

The survey identified the number of cruises (3 nights or longer) taken in the past 10 years by type (ocean cruises and river cruises). The survey also  determined for each of 19 listed cruise brands which the affluent cruisers have cruised with during the past 5 years, are familiar with but have not cruised with, feel are overrated, and believe attract status seekers, quality oriented cruisers, experienced travelers, value oriented cruisers, cruisers younger than me and /or travelers like me.

Familiarity with and perceptions of all the brands were both rather low, especially for the luxury brands, and thus represent potential obstacles to increasing the cruise business among the affluent, over half of which said they had not cruised during the prior 10 years. Travel agents can be an important force in overcoming these obstacles, particularly for the brands with limited marketing budgets.

The 19 listed cruise lines were Azamara, AMA Waterways, Avalon Waterways, Carnival, Celebrity, Crystal, Cunard, Disney, Holland America, Norwegian, Oceania, Princess, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean, Seabourn, Silversea, Viking River, Uniworld, and Windstar.

The Spring 2014 Affluent Market Tracking Study #25, the latest in a series of twice-yearly surveys, is based on a national sample of 330 men and women who have an average annual household income of $268,000, an average primary residence value of $1.1 million, an average net worth of $3.1 million, and average investable assets of $1.5 million.

Detailed highlights of the Spring 2014 survey and a description of the methodology can be viewed here.

A former senior cruise line executive, Kurtz was the innovator of the yacht cruise concept with the Sea Goddess ships (now sailing for SeaDream Yacht Club) in the early 1980s. He also served as chief marketing officer for Norwegian Cruise Line and Windstar Cruises.




Ron Kurtz
(770) 740-2200


About Us: Established in 2001 and with an exclusive focus on the affluent market, The American Affluence Research Center conducts the original and only continuous twice-yearly tracking studies of the mood and future spending plans of the wealthiest 10% of U.S. households based on net worth. AARC has become a recognized authority and a credible source of reliable insight and marketing information about the values, lifestyles, attitudes, and purchasing behavior of America’s most affluent consumers.