The cruise industry is a very interesting component of the global travel community. It take huge capitalization, tremendous logistics, deep pockets and great marketing to run a successful cruise line. As such you’d expect the industry to be staid, conservative and risk averse considering the financial investment in their product. while nothing could be further from the truth. The industry is very dynamic, every changing and very receptive to changing consumer demands. Hence the new way of cruising is very different than the old way of say, five years ago.
A recent survey highlighted just how much cruises, cruisers and cruise companies are changing.
Cruisers are seeking far-flung, pristine destinations in the year ahead, driven by a desire for immersion in each location, according to travel network Virtuoso.
“In 2020, cruisers are choosing itineraries based on destinations and the more unusual and faraway, the better,” said Beth Butzlaff, vice president, cruise sales at Virtuoso. “Cruising used to be considered more passive, but lines have overcome that misperception with more time in port and experiences that are unique to the destination. Passengers want to enjoy the essence of these places through interactions with local people and culture, and the industry has responded with innovative offerings to satisfy evolving preferences.”
According to a Virtuoso-YouGov survey, the number-one reason travelers are interested in cruises is the ability to visit multiple destinations. No longer just focused on the Caribbean or Mediterranean, cruise ships visit ports as diverse as Muscat, Oman; Manta, Ecuador; and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. A Halong Bay cruise is a good example of this trend.
Cruise lines are creating new itineraries and shore excursions to provide more destination immersion. Azamara offers three ways to further that connection with a locale: late-night and overnight stays, complimentary evening performances in port and shore excursions that encourage deeper connections with local people and cultures.
Cold is Hot
Lines as varied as Crystal, Seabourn, Viking and Ponant are offering more expedition cruises as the boom in adventurous cruising continues building. Passengers seeking pure, scenic destinations are attracted to chilly locales such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland and Norway’s fjords.
Cruise lines are responding to consumers’ growing awareness of sustainability by implementing more environmentally friendly technology and programs to boost the destinations they visit, both economically and culturally. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, by 2030, the cruise industry has committed to reducing its fleet-wide rate of CO2 emissions by 40 percent. As well, the economic impact on the communities that cruise ships visit is enormous, sustaining 1.1 million jobs equaling U.S. $45.6 billion in wages.
Micro-trips – short jaunts for people with more money and desire to travel than time – are trending in the cruise world.
While many cruisers pursue adventures in far-off lands, others are choosing itineraries closer to home. Cruise lines featuring U.S. sailings are flourishing, with American Queen’s Mississippi River cruises in particularly high demand. The appeal extends beyond Americans, as Australians who want to cruise the legendary river are also booking voyages. Another trending U.S. river is the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia.
The Suite Life
Some cruise devotees only travel in style by booking a suite, and if the category they desire is not available, they push their sailing date further into the future. Suite inventory is relatively small, specifically for spacious owner’s and penthouse suites, so this demand has inspired lines to open itineraries well in advance, especially for world cruises. With 2020 bookings strong, cruisers are bumping sailing dates out as far as 2022.
As you can see the new way of cruising is much different than how it used to be.