New Findings Reveal the Best Cruise Destinations

A new survey reveals the best cruise destinations, with Tampa in Florida taking the top spot with the highest index score.

Tampa, Florida, has been rated the No. 1 cruise destination in the world for 2024, according to a new survey. The city is located on Tampa Bay, in West Central Florida, and is among the state’s smaller ports. The study also looked at search data for “cruises” in general and found robust growth in the popularity of the vacation option.

New Survey Data Reveals Best Cruise Destinations

Avanti Travel Insurance, a UK firm, released a report that shows Tampa is the best cruise destination in 2024. Tampa had the highest cruise index score, 74, with the top score being 100. The destination also was ranked highest as being the “most family friendly,” and came in second in the category “suitability for seniors.”

The destination sits on Tampa Bay, an arm of the Gulf of Mexico, and is about 85 miles from Orlando, the theme-park capital of the Sunshine State. Eight ships from five cruise lines homeport at the Port of Tampa, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and Margaritavile at Sea.

Carnival Cruise Line has two ships sailing from Tampa, Carnival Paradise and Carnival Pride, which was the line’s first ship to homeport from the destination following the pandemic. Other ships based in Tampa include Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas, and Celebrity Cruises’ Constellation of the Seas.

Tampa is on target to welcome 1.1 million-plus cruise arrivals in 2024, according to Florida’s Seaport Mission Plan, and while the number is robust, it is far lower than competitor ports in Florida, such as PortMiami, with 7.3 million, and Port Canaveral, with 6.8 million recorded in 2023.

Aerial View of Tampa
Aerial View of Tampa (Photo Credit: Robert Miller Online)

Cozumel, Mexico, came in second place in the overall rankings, followed by Barcelona, in third place. Their index scores were 71.9 and 71.8, respectively. Both Cozumel and Barcelona scored high in the “most romantic destinations for couples” ranking, with scores of 17.2 and 20, respectively, out of a total of 20.

Barcelona continues to be one of the most popular cruise destinations as they have the largest cruise port in Europe and fourth in the world. Barcelona is full of attractions suitable for everyone including sightseeing, incredible restaurants and nightlife,said Sara Young, revenue manager for Carnival Cruises UK.

The study also ranked the best river cruise destinations in Europe. Barcelona took the lead as the top river cruise destination, with a score of 14.4 (out of a total of 20), likely from much smaller local tour sailings. Lisbon, Portugal, came in second place, followed by Vancouver, British Columbia.

Cruises Set To Be ‘All the Rage’ in 2024

A huge upswing in online searches for “cruise destinations” in the UK was identified, with a spike of a whopping 105% from January 24, 2024 to February 24, 2024.

Cruises are set to be all the rage this year and there’s a reason why they’ve grown in popularity. There’s nothing quite like a cruise. That’s part of what makes them special, but for the uninitiated, it can be quite overwhelming when it’s time to book,said Kelly Johnstone, of Avanti Travel Insurance.

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cruise Ship in Miami (Photo Credit: Felix Mizioznikov)

She advises future cruisers to look at various destinations and consider a ship’s personality before selecting a shortlist of cruise ships and cruise lines. And as more cruise lines have entered the market in recent years, such as Virgin Voyages and Ritz Carlton, the choices for vacationers continue to widen.

Read Also: Florida Cruise Ports – Your Full Overview and Guide

“The demographic for cruises is definitely changing as we are seeing more disrupters entering the market such as the Ritz Carlton, who’ve launched their first cruise ships, with more coming in 2024,” noted Young, the Carnival Cruises UK revenue manager.

The methodology included collecting cruise port data and assessing Trip Advisor reviews for each cruise ship. The reviews and data were used to create “cruise hotspot indexes” that ranked best cruise holiday destinations for couples, families, seniors, food and wine enthusiasts, and budget travelers. They also ranked the best river cruise destinations.

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