While I was researching trends in the cruise industry and talking to others in the industry, there were 3 trends that I was glad to see come up over and over again. I may take my first cruise this year because of them!

More Authentic/Local Experiences

  • Based on this Skift article, Windstar Cruises is focusing on “destination authenticity, delivering experiences in ports in a customized way that is made possible because of the ships’ small size.” Small is the new big apparently!
  • From a conversation I had with John from Alaska Charters, he mentioned that “small ship cruises are growing in popularity”. That there is a big difference between the experience on a cruise ship (100+ passengers), the small cruise ships (60-100) and then the smaller 6-12 passenger vessels like them. Who wouldn’t want to have more personal touches on their trip?
  • More cruise lines are focusing on millennials, Uniworld in particular is offering more “immersive itineraries with longer stays that focus on local experiences, restaurants, bars, and nightlife.” While I may not be as interested in bars and nightlife, I love that they are focusing on local experiences and restaurants.
  • I would like to see more nomad cruise options like Nomad Cruise, what a great idea! Their slogan in particular follows this theme, “We don’t offer trips. We offer experiences of a lifetime.”
  • According to Cruise Critic, the trend for river cruises and expeditions continues to expand. I like that they are including “more refined offerings like wine and food pairings, overnights with immersive port experiences, and decor that’s decidedly less busy and more refined.”

Additional Help Through Agencies & News Sites

  • This Tnooz article mentions a new site that helps you find and book cruises. “The five founders recognised that most online cruise sites are modeled on flight and hotel services but that booking a cruise is complex and typical customers require more than a few hours to go through the process. The startup has identified three distinct areas to address – search, discover and connect, which have also become Cruise.me’s tagline.”
  • Related to the need for help finding and booking cruises, Jody from Jody’s Travel mentioned, that “people are coming full circle, looking to a professional travel consultant to help them navigate the deals and amenities cruising offers. It’s not just about cost but about experiences and the realization that someone in the industry with inside knowledge for food and entertainment is the way to truly maximize your vacation.”
  • There are other cruises setting themselves apart with their marketing like Paul Gauguin Cruises. Monica with Paul Gauguin Cruises mentioned that others don’t often make things as interesting or beautiful as they could be. “If you are opening up a brochure and there is a tiny image and a huge price grid, who wants to look at that?” I completely agree!

Eco-Friendly Focus

  • John also mentioned that “as eco-tourism has become more fashionable we are seeing a much more diverse client base. Now it is common for us to have family groups or younger urban professionals. With the internet now we get a broad range of passengers from Australia, Europe and even the Soviet Union. A different but honest experience.”
  • While this Cruise Critic article talks about how cruises are starting to go green, based on this report card, it sounds like they still have work to do. At least there is starting to be more change here and discussion around it.

A special thanks to Monica with Paul Gauguin Cruises, Jody with Jody’s Travel and John with Alaska Charters for their insights on the industry.
How will these industry changes effect your next cruise or your business? I would love to hear from you in the comments!