How about learning Spanish, how to cook a traditional Jamaican dish or the history of the Caribe Indians from a tenured University professor?  Based on the results of a recent survey, cruise lines might do well by adding specific learning based courses to on-board itineraries.

From cooking and fitness to theatre and the arts to fashion and spectator sports, the survey found that personal interests are key drivers in vacation decisions. A few interesting facts about travels:

  • 87% indicate that personal interests drive the majority of their vacation plans
  • 60% say the stronger they feel about a passion, the further they've traveled for it
  • 57% are willing to travel any distance to explore their personal interests
  • 36% said they wouldn't consider a vacation destination that doesn't help them fulfill at least one personal passion

Vacations that incorporate personal passions also tend to be longer by almost double the number of days compared to those trips that do not include personal interests (16 days versus 9), more frequent (6 trips versus 3), and more expensive ($3,900 versus $2,400).

What are the most popular travel passions?

  • Culinary Interests: A growing number of travelers are inspired by the desire to expand their culinary horizons. In fact, 42% said that culinary factors, including the ability to try new cuisine and indulge in truly exotic/native dishes, were extremely/very important to their travel choices. This was particularly true among the younger respondents (18-34 year-olds).
  • Sporting Events: 28% have traveled to attend a sporting event.
  • Adventure: 25% have taken a vacation in pursuit of adventure and thrill from hiking to whitewater rafting.
  • Music: 21% have taken a vacation that included attending concerts and/or music festivals.
  • Educational travel: More than 15% reported traveling to delve deeper into the history and/or culture of a particular destination.

UPDATE:  Click here to see Luxury Cruise Line Siverseas educational itinerary, here if you are a stock or commodity investor and here for a Jazz cruise.

UPDATE (2):  I keep seeing more and more on this subject, and apparently it has a name: "edutainment."  Read this excellent cruise talk central article about Holland America,

Source: June 2008 American Express Travel Survey