The cruise passenger is changing, and so are their tastes, says research

A new survey has suggested that both luxury cruises and river cruises are rapidly growing in popularity among cruise-goers.

Almost one quarter of travel agencies reported that consumers were moving towards luxury cruises, said the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) on August 10.

An even higher proportion - 36.5 percent - said that there was an increased demand for river cruises, which tend to make more frequent stops at small towns and destinations.

The survey suggested that luxury customers were most interested in onboard services, with 94 percent saying the service was similar or better than that at a leading destination on land and 75 percent saying that cruises stacked up positively against the best restaurants in the world.

The CLIA says that the growth of river and luxury cruises is being driven by a change in the type of people that are choosing to cruise - cruise lines have reported a drop in the average age of guests, in one case a fall in the median passenger age from 60 to 45 in the last ten years.

This has led to the growth of cruises that stop more regularly and feature more onboard entertainment.

With new ships from Disney and the recent unveiling of single-passenger cabins and an ice bar on board the Norwegian Epic, it seems that cruise lines are proving successful in their quest to expand the popularity of a cruise holiday beyond the traditional market of retired vacationer.

Currently the hottest destinations for both luxury and river cruises are in Europe and the Mediterranean, followed by the Baltic, Russia and Central Europe, South America, the Middle East and Holy Land and Asia, said the CLIA.