People are traveling less for leisure because of a combination of economic uncertainty, rising airfares and hotel costs, tighter credit and declining housing wealth, says Kenneth McGill, executive managing director of Travel & Tourism Services at economic research firm Global Insight.
"They have finally begun to postpone, or reduce outright, their travel plans," he says.
Last year, small-business owner Marcia Riley of Sarasota, Fla., went on five cruises with her husband and three children, ages 10, 11 and 13, but they no longer can afford to keep up that pace.
After sales at Riley and her husband's two restaurants started sinking over the summer, she canceled four cruises they had booked between November and spring.
She estimates they would've spent about $19,000 on the cruises and extras, such as arcade games and spa treatments.
"We don't have that disposable income anymore," she says. "We are hanging in there trying to do the right thing, waiting for things to get better."
Contributing: Jayne O'Donnell, Jon Swartz, Barbara DeLollis, Laura Petrecca, Thomas K. Arnold