The holidays are a distant memory by this point — so what better way to overcome those winter doldrums than by planning a vacation? Last week, Carlson Wagonlit Travel Associates unveiled the 2008 results of its annual Travel Trends Survey. Conducted between Nov. 26. and Dec. 19, the survey includes top international and domestic destinations based on responses from 555 of Carlson’s owners, managers and agents throughout the U.S. Interestingly, consumers are still finding value in traveling to Europe, as seven of the top 20 international destinations are European. And cruises certainly ruled the top 10. “Ever since 9/11, one trend we’ve seen that’s grown is the multigenerational family traveling together — cruise lines have programs for young children, teenagers and adults,” said Kathy Gerhardt, a Carlson Wagonlit spokeswoman.
1. CRUISING THE CARIBBEAN
Percentage of agents ranking this as a top destination for their clients in 2008: 64
Bouncing from island to island throughout the Caribbean on a cruise ship is exactly what many vacation goers have in mind this year. “This is consistently our top international destination,” said Gerhardt of Carlson. “The Caribbean islands attract people, because they want sun and fun, but they don’t want to go too far away from home. For families who are trying to piece together a trip, the all-inclusive aspect of a cruise is really helpful.” Not to mention, all the well-known cruise lines have plenty of options for travelers throughout the year. Next month, for example, vacationers can book Royal Caribbean’s seven-night jaunt through Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Antigua, St. Lucia and Barbados, among other stops.
“This region has done a phenomenal job in rebounding from the hurricane damage brought on by Hurricane Wilma in 2005,” said Gerhardt. “Things really are back to normal there, and agents have been continuously updated as to how renovations have come along. The costs remain very reasonable, and U.S. travelers are aware of how easy a place like Cancún is, in terms of a vacation destination.” Excellence Resort’s Playa Mujeres (left) is Cancún’s newest luxury resort destination for adults, which opened in November. The resort is situated on an untouched 20-mile peninsula separating the Caribbean and the Chacmochuc Lagoon, a national wildlife preserve.