Cruising as a holiday option is likely to outgrow other segments of the travel industry in the near future, predicts the Cruise Lines International Association, the world's largest cruise association. Based in the US and a respected authority on cruise travel representing 25 major cruise lines, CLIAs recent ‘state of the industry’ survey amongst travel industry members has awakened the interest of those eager to learn about anticipated trends in the world of cruising.
Cruising voted ‘value for money’
The survey, completed in December 2010, found that the numbers of consumers cruising remains on the increase, and ranks the cruise holiday sector as being ‘of number one interest’ for consumers. ‘Perceived value for money of cruising as a holiday option’ was a recurring reason given in response to the survey, which is unsurprising, as it has long been recognised by industry members and passengers alike that the level and quality of service available aboard cruise ships generally exceeds that found in hotels on land of a similar star rating. The global economic downturn will have played its part in survey results, with consumers increasingly aware of the need to extract maximum value from their choice of holiday break.
Returning first timers and baby boomers contribute to the trend
‘Past cruise experience’ was another reason stated for the growth in cruise popularity; again, not an unexpected response, in view of the steady increase in numbers of returning first time cruisers bitten by the cruising bug over recent decades. Members of the legendary ‘baby boom’ generation are of an age to discover the draw of life at sea, and are now more likely to have time and income at their disposal with which to enjoy it.
New ships on the block generate excitement
The excitement generated by the number of new ships currently emerging into the cruise market was also cited by the survey report as being a contributing factor, indicating cruise operators’ willingness to invest in the future. New for 2011, and perhaps a sign of more buoyant times to come (if the reader will excuse the pun), are Seabourn Cruise Line’s Quest (450 passengers) launching on 9 June, followed on 4 July by Costa Cruises’ Costa Favolosa (3,000 passengers) and Celebrity’s new Silhouette (2,850 passengers) on 23 July. P&O Cruises welcome the 710-capacity Adonia to their fleet in early summer, and whilst this is an adoption of an existing vessel (Royal Princess, launched 2001) she nonetheless represents investment by P&O in the market for smaller ‘pathfinder’ ships, able to berth in places inaccessible to many larger cruise ships.
Speciality dining and themes target specialist user groups
Trends predicted for 2011 and beyond by the Association include a growing focus on specialty dining, with the introduction of more unique restaurants, guest chefs and use of local produce attracting the attention of consumers’ increasingly cosmopolitan palates. The health kick trend is tipped to continue, if the survey proves correct, with cruise lines placing greater emphasis on ‘spa style’ benefits on board. Healthy eating options have started putting in an appearance on ship menus, and with some cruise lines health suite experiences are being linked to certain classes of cabin or stateroom; Celebrity’s Aqua Class stateroom / Blu ‘healthy eating’ Restaurant/ spa salon package is a prime example.
Themed cruises are on the increase, with trend-watchers noting that with the incorporation of themes on selected cruise itineraries, cruise lines are able to target, and retain loyalty from, new user groups. Fred Olsen, P&O Cruises, and Royal Caribbean International offer cruises based on a variety of themes, from wild life to bridge and dancing, cookery sessions to music festivals at sea.
Whatever the theme, and whatever the cruise line, it seems that the general message of this ‘state of the industry’ survey is that cruising is here to stay, and is on a rising tide of popularity.
Cruising set to out-rank other forms of travel, says gillscruise.com
Company: Gills Cruise Centre
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