The Cook Islands Cruise Survey was undertaken in conjunction with the Pacific Regional Tourism Capacity Building Programme (PRTCBP), and funded with the assistance of the European Union.
The survey was undertaken over a 5-month period between January and May 2014, with a sample size for analysis of 447 interviews.
Interviewing took place in Rarotonga and Aitutaki, with data recorded electronically during the interview through the use of tablet devices.
Survey authors said the use of tablets “allowed for rapid analysis of the data following the interview process”.
Among some of the key highlights, the survey found typical cruise ship visitors spend on average $91 in Rarotonga, and $72 in Aitutaki. Black pearls were cited as the largest single expense item in Raro.
It was found that travellers from the US account for almost one third of all cruise visitors to the Cook Islands, with 25 per cent coming from California, and 12.4 per cent from Florida.
German residents are described as an important group, representing nearly 30 per cent of visitors followed by Canada at 11.4%.
In Rarotonga, half of all visitors were either American and German, while the two countries contributed to approximately three quarters of visitors to Aitutaki.
13.2 per cent of all visitors had previously travelled to the Cook Islands. Of those, over seven out of ten had been on a cruise with 29 per cent on a land-based holiday.
Cruise visitors to the Cooks predominantly fall into the 64-plus age group category at 46 per cent, with 27.1 per cent aged between 55-64.
Cruise visitors from the United Kingdom have the oldest age profile, with two out of three aged 64 and older.
What did they think?
“Almost three quarters of visitors to Rarotonga and Aitutaki rated their trip to the Cook Islands as Very Enjoyable” at 73.3 and 74.2 per cent respectively.
Over 50 per cent of visitors to Rarotonga said they would definitely like to return on another cruise, and 45.8 per cent said they would return to Aitutaki.
Approximately one third of cruise ship visitors to the Cook Islands said they would definitely return on a land-based holiday.
Interestingly, half of all of them said their time was too short.
A handsome 75 per cent said they would recommend the Cooks to friends and family.
The survey found a typical cruise ship visitor spends on average $91 during a trip to Rarotonga, and $72 to Aitutaki, with shore excursions accounting for the greatest portion of their total spend.
The largest single expense item in Rarotonga were Black Pearls, with an average cost of $16.
In Aitutaki, Food and Beverages represented the largest portion of spending at $17.
What do they do on shore?
Nearly two thirds of all cruise visitors to the Cook Islands took a shore excursion – a figure cited by the survey authors as a very high figure within the industry.
The most popular onshore activity in Rarotonga was the Round Island Tour, accounting for 39.4 per cent of excursions, followed by the Lagoon Cruise at 16 per cent and cultural tours at 15.4 per cent.
On Aitutaki, the most popular tour was the lagoon cruise at 45.2 per cent.
Most of the excursions to both Rarotonga and Aitutaki were rated at “Excellent or Very Good.”
The report was produced by UK company Acorn Tourism Consulting Ltd.