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Are Cruise Passengers Old? You Decide... Here are the Stats!

Are Cruise Passengers Old? You Decide... Here are the Stats!

Jeremy CamosseNov 30 2021Travel
 
 

"All cruise passengers are old." You may have heard this before from nay sayers. It is true that the demographics of cruise passengers skews slightly older. But, it might not be to the degree that you think!

 

Do you prefer Old or Young cruise passengers?

We should first ask ourselves what we're looking for on a cruise. Do we prefer an old or young demographic.

When asking this, we don't mean for the question to be confused with "ageism." People are looking for likeminded company. Kids want to play with other kids. Young adults are looking for new friends and potential romantic partners. Families enjoy being among other families. Older cruisers often want to avoid younger, louder vacationers and to participate in more mature activities.

People want to spend time with others in their same age group. It's that simple.

It's easier to find a cruise with your similar age group than you may think. If you have "normal" interests for your stage in life, you should naturally gravitate towards cruises frequented by a similar demographic.

Here are the factors that come into play when selecting your cruise. Each of these variables will impact the age groups found on your vacation.

 

Which Cruises are for Old & Young Passengers?

There are many factors that come into play when selecting a cruise. With each factor, a decision must be made... big vs small ship; expensive vs cheaper cruise; long vs short itinerary; and so on. Younger cruise passengers will make these decisions differently than the older demographic. Here are the most obvious factors that come into play.

 

CRUISE TIME OF YEAR

Cruise passengers will skew younger when school is out. This may seem obvious. But, it's often overlooked. If the preference is to avoid young kids, avoid school outages. We've cruised during spring break. It was surprising to see older cruisers get annoyed with the younger demographic.

Here are the most common school breaks in the U.S.

Typical School Breaks (U.S.)
Typical School Breaks (U.S.)
  • Spring Break: Its standard to have a one-week break during March or April. The last two weeks of March are the most common.
  • Summer Vacation: Schools typically schedule two to three months off beginning May and June and ending between August and September.
  • Thanksgiving Break: 4th Thursday in November (Thanksgiving & Day after).
  • Winter Break: Schools typically schedule a one to two-week break during the end ofDecember and the first weeks of January.

 

LENGTH OF CRUISE

Longer cruises will have an older clientele. Three to five night cruises are considered "short." These will consist of younger passengers looking for a quick getaway. Seven night sailings are the most common. These will consist of a wide range of age groups. All itineraries longer than seven days will start to skew older. The more nights, the older the passengers. At the extreme, you can check out the 60-day World Cruise. You'll likely not find a single child or even young adult on these sailings. Just remember, longer equals older.

 
Theme CruisesThemed cruises tend to include a much tighter demographic. The age range on these sailings won't vary nearly as much as a standard cruise. The specific theme will determine the age group. Obviously a Backstreet Boys Cruise will differ significantly from a Wine Tasting Sailing.
 

CRUISE SHIP

Take a virtual tour of any ship that you're interested in. The onboard amenities should give you a good idea of its demographic. Some ships will advertise waterparks and child care. Others will boast about their cuisine and service. Choose a ship that caters towards your interests and you'll find others your age have done the same.

You'll also find a distinct difference in age groups when comparing big vs small ships. The larger the ship, the younger the cruise passenger. Click for a list of the 25 Largest Cruise Ships in the World.

Age Restricted ShipsSome ships have age restrictions. Virgin Voyages for example. You can completely avoid cruising with kids if that's your preference. Simply find a ship that doesn't allow them.
 

ITINERARY

Younger and older cruisers gravitate towards different itineraries. As an extreme example, compare a European river cruise to Disney Sailing to Coco Cay. Mainstream ports tend to attract younger cruise passengers. Itineraries heading to cultural, romantic, and hard-to-reach destinations will attract a more mature vacationer. The more popular the destination, the younger the visitor.

 

VACATION COST

Generally speaking, "more expensive" equals "older." Families are on a budget. We know this all too well.

When buying a vacation for an entire family, "price" becomes a significant factor. Retired individuals with stable pensions aren't nearly as cost conscious.

 

Younger Cruise Ship Example

Below you'll find costs for two ships. The first is the largest cruise ship in the world. You'll notice that the cost for this ship is very reasonable. The Symphony of the Seas will include many families. You'll find the average cruiser age on this ship below the industry average.

Older Cruise Ship Example

The widget below shows cruise prices for the Silver Explorer. This small ship caters towards an older passenger. The ship excels in "service." It's small and it visits exotic destinations. You'll find a far different demographic on here vs the ship above!

 

Those are all of the factors contributing to cruise passenger age.

Now let's take a look at the industry as a whole. Below you'll find industry averages.

Average Cruise Passenger Age Group
Average Cruise Passenger Age Group
  • 12 Years & Younger: 8%
  • 13-19 Years Old: 5%
  • 20-29 Years Old: 9%
  • 30-39 Years Old: 12%
  • 40-49 Years Old: 14%
  • 50-59 Years Old: 18%
  • 60-69 Years Old: 19%
  • 70+ Years Old: 15%

The age buckets above should provide a good gauge for cruise passenger age. Each decade will share very similar interests.

We can also take a step back and look at some broader ranges. The chart below combines buckets. These 20-year age groups should also be relevant.

Average Cruise Passenger Age Group
Average Cruise Passenger Age Group
  • 19 Years & Younger: 13%
  • 20-39 Years Old: 21%
  • 40-59 Years Old: 32%
  • 60+ Years Old: 34%
 

FAQs - Cruise Passenger Age

Is there an age limit to cruise? Most cruise lines require that a baby be at least six months old to cruise. There are some exceptions, such as repositioning cruises. These tend to require a minimum age of 12 months. Please consult with your specific cruise line for exact details.

How old do you have to be to cruise alone? Cruise passengers must be 21 years of age or older for most cruise lines. If younger than 21 years old, you must be accompanied by a legal guardian. Some cruise lines with departure ports outside of the U.S. allow for 18 year olds to cruise unaccompanied.

What is the average cruise passenger age? The most prominent age decade for cruise passengers includes guests in their 60's with 19%. You can view each age group in our included chart above. The age group will vary drastically on different ships. We note the contributing factors above.

Which cruise line has the youngest passengers? Disney Cruise Line will skew the youngest. Outside of that particular cruise line, it will vary based on ship, itinerary, price, and other factors noted above.

Which cruise line has the oldest passengers? There are a number of factors driving the decision process by age group. Some include cost, itinerary, ship, timing, and cruise length. The older cruise passengers will tend to favor more expensive sailings with longer itineraries and on smaller ships.

 
 

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