by Heather Meliski
I recently returned from CruiseWorld, the premiere annual cruise
conference for the travel industry, where I learned about the newest and
hottest trends in cruising direct from the Presidents and CEOs of the top
cruise lines in the world. And as a
participant in their STAR Program, a hand-selected group of 250 travel advisors
that have special access to top suppliers at the event, I was able to meet
directly with a number of land and cruise companies to discuss their products,
tour their ships, and hear about what is on the horizon for their products for 2020
and beyond. Here are some of the top
trends in the cruise industry:
The number one trend across all global cruise line brands is expedition cruising. Whether it’s experiencing Antarctica, sailing from Greenland through the Northwest Passage, or cruising coastal Norway or Iceland, this is the ‘coolest’ trend in cruising. These sailings are active, immersive, hands-on experiences where you can kayak or take a zodiac boat to see glaciers, view penguins, whales, polar bears, and seals in their natural habitats, and go ashore to hike and explore the terrain. On the ship you can partake in science experiments, hear lectures from naturalists, enjoy great food, drinks, and entertainment, or just relax on deck and enjoy the stunning, unspoiled views.
Are you looking to visit multiple destinations – particularly in Europe and Asia – but don’t want to continuously move hotels and destinations or have to pack and unpack multiple times? If you answered ‘yes’ then river cruising is a great choice. River cruising is a more intimate way to visit multiple destinations with the convenience of a more all-inclusive experience. As they say, ocean cruising takes you to a country but river cruising takes you through it. With more options than ever in river cruising – from adults-only sailings to cruises that are specifically designed to be family-friendly, specialty sailings with wine, golf, or culinary programming and experiences, river cruise lines designed specifically for millennials and Gen X, Christmas Market cruises, and more – there is bound to be a river cruise option that will appeal to anyone.
The Galapagos Islands
Hands-down the Galapagos is the most-sought after destination in cruising. These sailings are very active – you can snorkel with sea turtles and sea lions, hike the islands, and see blue-footed boobies, marine iguanas, or giant tortoises up close – and allow you to immerse yourself in the unique flora and fauna that can’t be found anywhere else on earth. The animals have no fear of humans which allows you to see them up-close (you still maintain a respectful distance). Cruise lines are building ships specifically for this destination, such as the brand-new Celebrity Flora which features sea-level tendering in zodiac boats, special onboard programming, and the opportunity to stargaze with overnight glamping on the top deck of the ship. These are once-in-a-lifetime sailings where every day you will be in awe at what you have experienced.
There is a focused effort across the cruise industry to minimize the environmental impact of cruising. Whether it’s hybrid electric-powered cruise ships, creating zero carbon footprints for ships, reducing the use of fossil fuels, or utilizing liquefied bio-gas, cruise lines are more focused than ever on reducing their impact on the environment. One cruise line recently eliminated all single-use plastics on their ships, providing stainless steel water bottles and reusable straws to all passengers. There is also a significant focus on reducing over-tourism and being mindful and intentional to decrease the impact on small, local towns and villages when ships are in port. Additionally, cruise lines are partnering with remote communities to support cooperative tourism programs to help the local economies.
Cruising is a fantastic way to visit multiple countries and experience the world. If you haven’t sailed recently – or ever – you should check it out for yourself in 2020!