... the Western Caribbean (26.52 percent), though the Eastern Caribbean (22.37 percent) was right on its tail. And, despite a woe-is-me diatribe from the cruise industry about the ever-softening Caribbean, it would appear that Cruise Critic members aren't paying the least bit of attention: the Southern Caribbean (19.33 percent) came in a hardy third.
Like the Western and Eastern Caribbean itineraries, the Western Mediterranean (10.89 percent) and Alaska (10.67 percent) were also neck and neck.
Not surprisingly, on the lower end of the scale were the more expensive and exotic destinations. While it might seem that Asia, Australia/New Zealand, South America, the Baltic and Hawaii performed lightly, it's our estimation (based on page views and, well, just an all-out hunch) that most folks planning a more exotic voyage this year were ... not participating in our poll -- cause we've seen the boards and we know you're out there ....
Only a handful are venturing out to Asia (2 percent) and Australia/New Zealand (2 percent), as well as South America (3.26 percent), the Baltics (3.33 percent) and Hawaii (8 percent).
Here's a roundup of some telling insights, culled from comments by members:
Why is the Caribbean (and we'll include Bermuda and the Bahamas in here, too) vastly more popular than other regions? In a phrase: Homeports still matter!
"It's Bermuda for me too. We've done the Caribbean over the last four years; it's time to go back to Bermuda, and with ships leaving from Philly, NJ, NY & Baltimore, there's plenty to choose from!! --phillychick
"Mexico, 'cause I can drive, not fly, to port." --laidbackin LA
"We live close to Galveston and chose the Grand Princess Western Caribbean itinerary since it will not be returning to Galveston next winter." --texreno
Bermuda was a big winner in our "other" category.
Since we could only include 10 actual regions -- and there are double that many around the world -- we were interested in the category for "other," which lumped all other cruise destinations. In fact, "other" scored 22.37 percent, pointing to the fact that our members travel very widely.
In particular, from reading the thread, we noticed that Bermuda received lots of attention. Take it from Bermudalou: "You go to Heaven if you want to -- I'd rather stay in Bermuda. With the name BermudaLou, can there be any doubt? I am waiting for a Home Depot to open in Bermuda so I can transfer there."
Beyond the Destination
Regardless of which destination received the most votes, to some of our members it's not necessarily the ports that make them choose a particular itinerary ... it's the ships!
"It's the Southern Caribbean for us in January '07 mainly because we wanted to cruise on the Crown Princess -- the destination is not that important to us." --Bohemian
"In late January I'm going to the Mexican Riviera with friends and others I've sailed with before. Going for the company and the cruise." --CruznFool
"My husband and I will leave in 11 days for Ft. Lauderdale to sail for the first time with Cunard on the QM2. We love at sea days and this 26-day cruise is in port only five days!" --gwenmarie
"I love the days at sea while crossing the Atlantic." --PSP
"I checked 'other' as our only BOOKED cruise for 2007 is an eastbound trans-Atlantic cruise on Celebrity's Constellation. We love the days at sea, and we're fortunate enough to be able to join some other Cruise Critic pals. We haven't decided yet about the fall trip...." --Brucemcdou
And there are many of you who are lucky enough to be cruising multiple times this year! (Can we stow away in your suitcase?)
"In April we will be going to Bermuda, also going on Costa Magica for the first time. Then in October we'll fly to Quebec and do a repo cruise on Grand Princess back to Fort Lauderdale. Then for my birthday in December, a Key West and Cozumel cruise on Celebrity Century. So many ships so little time." --fllady
"Keeping to our '3 Cruises A Year in Retirement,' we have planned for '07 (God willing): 4-day Baja on the Monarch for DGD 5th birthday in January; 10-day Alaska CruiseTour on the beautiful Radiance of the Seas in June; 10-day New England/Canada on NCL Dawn in October. Should be another great year on the high seas!" --BennettsCruise
"We are doing first a Western Caribbean, then trans-canal, then a trans-Atlantic and then an Eastern Caribbean. If I can squeeze in a trip to Bermuda, then we will do that too. Love to cruise." --RodPat
Tired of the mainstream mega ships? Make 2007 the year you try something different. Kathy53 says, "In June, 2007, we will be taking an 11-day Mississippi River cruise onboard The Mississippi Queen. It's called The Great Steamboat Race from New Orleans to St. Louis. While we enjoy cruises on the large ships, we wanted to experience a riverboat cruise and the great Mississippi."
And even our own staffers look forward to an exotic escape. Writes Editor Carolyn Spencer Brown, "I'm most excited about cruising in Asia -- a first for me (have been on a land trip to Japan but never anywhere else). And I'm hoping to do a photography/special interest cruise in the Western Mediterranean -- one of the best places in the world to cruise, totally picturesque (great for learning how to improve my "shots") and fun, besides. That one's not definite but fingers are crossed! Other places on the wish list? Black Sea, South Africa, Tahiti. Someday ...."
--by Erica Sapio, Assistant Editor