Around 30 million people are expected to take a cruise in 2019, up 6% from 28.2 million in 2018, according to a new report from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
The 2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook forecasts that 11 key trends will help to boost cruise growth in 2019, with the top drivers being social media and restorative travel.
“Research and forecasting the year ahead allows the cruise industry an opportunity to take a big picture look at the cruise and travel industries to evaluate and predict all of the exciting things to come,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA. “The coming year’s trends truly reflect the intersection between the experiences travellers seek and the cruise industry’s innovations.”
CLIA’s 2019 cruise travel trends predictions include:
1. ‘Instagrammable’ cruise travel: on average, there are around 351 million posts with the #travel tag published on Instagram every day and now that cruise passengers can connect to social media onboard ships, they are able to easily share highlights of their diverse travel experiences.
2. Total restoration: travellers are seeking ways to relieve the stress of their daily lives and more cruise lines than ever before are offering wellness activities, restorative spa experiences, healthy menus and the latest fitness innovations. Some are even offering onboard oxygen bars.
3. Achievement over experience: experiential travel has evolved into achievement travel and cruise guests now want immersive, cultural experiences that enable them to go well beyond traditional sightseeing. Bucket lists have become more goal-oriented and cruise lines are now offering shore excursions and onboard activities to meet those demands.
4. Onboard with smart tech: cruise companies are offering wearable technologies – such as keychains, necklaces and bracelets – to deliver a highly personalised travel experience to guests while they are onboard the ship, and onshore.
5. Conscious travel: people want to travel the world in a more conscious and mindful way and cruise operators are now working with local communities to preserve their heritage and implementing innovations that decrease the environmental footprint of their ships and passengers. The cruise industry is also working with destinations to bring the benefits of tourism to local economies while preserving local cultures, landmarks and environments.
6. Access is the new luxury: travellers want to visit remote regions, such as the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica, and cruise lines are now making it possible for them to access these destinations.
7. Gen Z at sea: Generation Z (born mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is set to become the largest consumer generation in the next two years and, like the millennials, this age bracket prefers authentic experiences over material items. The appeal of being able to visit multiple destinations and enjoy experiences such as music festivals at sea is helping attract this new generation of cruisers.
8. Off-peak adventures: cruising offers travellers the chance to enjoy once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the colder months, including northern lights excursions, visits to penguin colonies and tours of Christmas markets in Europe.
9. Working nomads: more people are combining work with leisure and more cruise ships than ever before have free wi-fi and work-friendly cafés, enabling guests to keep up to date with work while on vacation.
10. Female-centred cruising: the number of female travellers is increasing, so cruise lines are now creating female-centred itineraries that are designed to connect women with other women. Some cruises also include visits to famous feminist landmarks.
11. Going solo: Google has reported a rise in the number of searches for ‘solo travel’ and ‘travelling alone’ and cruising offers the perfect opportunity for people to travel by themselves without worrying about the details. They can also connect with other travellers onboard the ship.