Evolving face of consumer preference
2023 sees an increase in travel, with cruising rebounding to pre-pandemic levels, giving rise to new trends, consumer behaviours and preferences. There has been a marked shift in people’s mindsets, impacting future cruise trends for all.
Here’s how we see cruising will take shape in the year ahead:
Uptick in small ship cruises and luxury cruises: People want to escape and are willing to spend on bucket list destinations or cruise experiences, desiring niche journeys, destinations, and cultural immersion.
Smaller ships generally hold anywhere between 200 to 500 people, taking you to remote destinations where larger vessels cannot go leading to unique locations. Smaller cruise lines can provide personalized onboard services as they’re designed to be more relaxing and intimate. This is ideal for those sailing in smaller groups, allowing to form friendships with other passengers on board.
With a higher staff to passenger ratio, the service on a small ship can be superior to that on a mega-ship.
Solo travellers can choose from options of solo cabins designed for single occupancy guests and dedicated cocktail parties for them where they can mingle with other solo travellers
Cruise lines like Seabourn, Silversea, Oceania Cruises or Regent Seven Seas are perfect examples of impeccable all-inclusive service resulting in customer delight and a high number of repeat and loyal passengers.
River cruises like AMA Waterways, Avalon and Uniworld offer all intimate experiences and luxury accommodations. The smaller size of a river ship enables them to dock right in the heart of cities and towns (and many of the world’s greatest cities are made accessible by river) – you can literally walk straight off the ship and into the town.
New cruise destinations: Gen Z and millennials are keen to explore new and remote cruise destinations like Antarctica, the Galapagos, Arctic Circle, Greenland, Iceland, or other itineraries that can help them tick off items on their bucket list.
With new ships coming in every year, cruise lines are also focusing on new ports and destinations in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Red Sea along with cruises departing from the Arabian Gulf Ports during winter.
Demand for wellness cruises: As guests become more and more conscious of their health and fitness, several cruise lines have introduced holistic programs on board, including healthy cuisines.
Several cruise companies have started to provide Vegan and plant-based meals onboard to their guests. Guests aboard Princess Cruises and Cunard may also indulge in sugar free and gluten free meal options.
Guests are looking for relaxing places on the ship, with spas onboard ensuring they have a tranquil atmosphere through various programmes and treatments aimed at mental and physical wellness.
Cruise lines like Princess Cruises and Cunard are equipped with state-of-the-art fitness centres offer exercise and spinning courses, free and machine weights, treadmills with ocean views and more to energize yourself while on your cruise vacation. And if you like the outdoors, there’s a jogging track a few decks above the waves.
Solo cruising: Solo travel is becoming popular and offers the flexibility of planning your holiday based on your interests.
Today, solo travellers can choose from options of solo cabins designed for single occupancy guests and dedicated cocktail parties for them where they can mingle with other solo travellers.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s solo cabins, known as Studios, have been designed keeping the single occupancy guest in mind. With a contemporary design, the studio cabins have a dedicated deck, and they include a lounge area for socializing with fellow cruisers.
Next-gen technology: Cruise lines are increasingly investing a lot in next gen technology which is enabling seamless onboard experiences.
Princess Cruises is the first in cruise line in Carnival Corporation’s family of brands to introduce the Ocean Medallion technology, a wearable device that enables impeccable personalization and service, allowing you to get more out of your vacation. The technology permits cruisers to order food and drink on demand, locate lost shipmates, compete in ship wide games and unlock cabins doors without touching them.
* Ashok Kumar, often referred to as the region’s Cruise Guru, is the Founder and MD of Cruise Master, representing Cunard, Princess Cruises and P&O Cruises in the region