Cruise Trends and Top 10 cruise destinations for 2015

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

american queen river cruise

Cruise Holidays International released its authoritative 2015 Cruise Trends report which lists top cruise destinations as well as top river cruise destinations.

While the Caribbean continues to lead – due, in part, to an ever-expanding selection of closer-to-home cruise ports that appeal to a wide range of travelers – demand for cruises in two other far-flung markets, Europe and China, continues to grow both for deep water and river cruising.  The biggest gains among European river cruise destinations have been charted for Passau, Germany, and Lyon, France, while the Top 5 list for river cruises outside of Europe includes destinations in China, Vietnam and Myanmar.

The Cruise Holidays Cruise Trends report* is an annual, in-depth look at actual cruise bookings made for the year ahead by its network of more than 1,300 cruise-focused travel agents across the United States and Canada.

"It's no surprise that the Caribbean maintains a dominant presence in cruising, thanks to its year-round pleasant weather, a plentiful inventory of cruise ships, affordability, and its geographical convenience," said Kevin Weisner, Senior Vice President of Sales for, North America's largest travel agency marketing organization, of which Cruise Holidays is a part. "But what's especially attractive to a growing number of travelers is how the cruise industry is adapting to their desires to visit Europe, be it coastal or inland. Both deep water and river cruising have emerged as complementary – not competing – forces in travel," said Weisner. Indeed, some traditional open water cruise lines are packaging their itineraries with river cruise trips.

Top 10 Cruise Destinations

Here are the Top 10 cruise destinations for 2015, according to Cruise Holidays travel agents across North America:

Rank Destination % of 2015 
1 Caribbean (includes the Bahamas) 50.5 1 1
2 Europe Ocean Cruises (includes Med, Baltic, Scandinavia & Greek Isles) 12.0 2 2
3 Alaska 7.8 3 3
4 European Rivers 6.7 4 N/A
5 Bermuda 4.2 5 4
6 Trans-Atlantic 3.2 7 6 (tie)
7 Panama Canal 2.6 6 6 (tie)
8 China/Japan/Southeast Asia 2.4 15 12
9 Hawaiian Islands 2.2 8 5
10 South Pacific (includes Australia & New Zealand) 1.7 9 8


Top 10 River Cruise Destinations

Due to river cruising's skyrocketing popularity, Cruise Holidays' data also revealed the top river cruise destinations:

Rank Destination/Itinerary % of 2015 River 
Cruise Bookings
1 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
"Windmills & Tulips"
Rhine (7-day), Dutch waterways (if roundtrip), some Mosel,
Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)



Budapest, Hungary
"Grand Tour"**

Danube (7-day), Rhine/Main/Danube (14-day)

36.6% 2

Basel, Switzerland
"Rhine River Valley"


17.3% 4

Paris, France

Seine (7-day), Rhone (8-10 day), 
Seine/Rhone (14-day)

15.9% 3
5 (tie) Prague, Czech Republic
Main/Danube, some Elbe
8.0% 8
5 (tie) Nuremberg, Germany
8.0% 5

Avignon, France

Rhone (7-day), Seine/Rhone (14-day)

7.4% 6

Porto, Portugal
"Douro River Valley"


6.3% 9
9 Passau, Germany
Danube, connect to Main
4.6% 14
10 Lyon, France
Rhone, Saône
4.2% 13

Passau, on Germany's border with Austria, jumped into the top 10 thanks to increasing interest in exploring the Danube as it flows through the heart of Central Europe. Lyon, France, also climbed into the top 10, showcasing travelers' growing desire to visit the scenic heart of France and taste its world-class cuisine and sample its iconic wines.

Top 5 River Cruise Destinations Outside Europe

Rank Destination/Itinerary % of 2015 River 
Cruise Bookings
1 (tie) Beijing, China 2.35% 2
1 (tie) Shanghai, China 2.35% 3
3 Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam 1.6% 1
4 (tie) Mandalay, Myanmar 1.5% N/A
4 (tie) Pyay, Myanmar 1.5% N/A

While the overall top 10 river cruise destinations are all within Europe, there's a growing desire among travelers who have discovered that river cruising is an excellent and convenient way to visit more exotic destinations. "We believe the growth of the European river cruise traveler has created this demand from those looking to collect new destination experiences," added Weisner.

Advantages to Reserving Early

"If you wish to have adjoining staterooms, a suite, or other special accommodations, these room types are consistently the top sellers on any given ship," said Weisner. "Additionally, with more cruise lines offering reservations for onboard shows and specialty dining, we encourage all of our clients to work with their Cruise Holidays travel agent to secure their reservation well in advance. Some of the popular restaurants are now at capacity several months before sailing."

*All data is based on reservations as of October 29, 2014.

** Grand Tours are typically 14-day voyages along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers.

Cruise Holidays is a cruise specialty travel agency network, with members in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. Cruise Holidays is also a distinguished provider of land tour vacation packages. Founded in 1984, Cruise Holidays is part of, the largest travel services marketing organization in North America. is part of Travel Leaders Group, which is the largest traditional travel agency company in North America with approximately $20 billion in annual sales volume through over 6,000 locations.



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