As worldwide cruise passenger numbers demonstrated a trend towards a maturing industry in recent years (passenger numbers still increasing but at a declining rate), this study was undertaken to investigate the motivations influencing cruise tourists' decision to cruise. Motivation data are vital for cruise companies to plan for the future. The study provides a valuable and timely insight into the motivations of 306 North American cruise tourists. A structured questionnaire was conducted on board a cruise ship operated by a major cruise company serving ports-of-call along the Eastern Atlantic Seaboard and the Caribbean. Data were collected on 6 cruise itineraries for a 6-week period from May 31 to July 6, 2008. Three aspects of potential tourist motivation were explored using 7-point Likert scales, including, information sources, vacation attributes, and motives derived from the Leisure Motivation Scale. The analysis is structured in relation to the respondents' cruise itinerary and cruise experience. The influence of tested motivations varied with cruise experience but not cruise itinerary. For cruise tourists, personal- and Internet-based information sources are deemed most influential, and their desire to cruise is primarily driven by the need for stimulus-avoidance. Some significant implications for cruise companies have emerged.
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