Full Steam Ahead
Cruise travel is on the rise. Follow these four trends to beat the tide.
More than 25 million passengers are expected to set sail aboard a cruise ship in 2017, a 4.5 percent increase from 2016, according to 2017 Cruise Industry Outlook, a report from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). And the industry is ready for the passengers: Twenty-six new ships will launch in 2017, including ocean, river and specialty vessels. Noriye Oto, vice president of cruise and product management at International Cruise & Excursions, Inc., shares four major trends that may help cruise lines cut a larger slice of this growing market.
Installing Onboard Technology
Travelers increasingly expect to have the same relationships with technology at sea that they do on land. Amenities such as free and fast Wi-Fi are essential. “Cruisers desire to stay connected and share their incredible vacation experiences with the world through social media,” Oto says. Also in demand are technologies that ease the check-in process and overall cruise experience, such as wearable devices that can aid travelers in navigating the vessel, act as a room key and charge services to their cabins.
Planning Active Experiences
Passengers aren’t looking to just kick back. Expect an increased range in immersive activities such as hands-on art, culinary and craft-beer classes. “There’s a growing interest in expedition cruising, especially for bucket-list destinations,” Oto says. In 2018, Crystal Cruises® is set to launch Crystal Endeavor, which will sail the to the Arctic, the Antarctic and tropical climates. The cruise will include two helicopters for sightseeing expeditions, two seven-passenger submarines and scuba equipment for diving.
Catering to Millennials
“Cruise lines will continue to attract youthful demographics by modifying and expanding their product offerings and communication strategies,” Oto says. More cruises will offer shorter three- and five-day excursions that appeal to younger generations who have less time to vacation. In addition, organized off-board outings will grow, as millennials seek group environments where they can meet new people and engage in activities together.
Reaching into the River Cruise Market
CLIA reports that river cruises will increase 7 percent in 2017, to a total of 197 ships on the water. River cruises can go places ocean vessels can’t. This is a hybrid product that combines the ease of cruising—no hotel hopping or worrying about a car—with a deeper exploration of a particular destination for a more culturally enriching experience. Uniworld plans to launch a river cruise in 2018 targeting 18- to 40-year-olds that offers active excursions and social activities on land and such features as contemporary décor, mixologists and international DJs on board.
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