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What’s the deal with cruising in 2019? What’s changed, what’s new, and what’s trending? Our 6 insights shed light on the industry’s latest developments.
1. On-board digital experiences
20-years ago cruising was distanced from the digital world, and the Internet was merely a land-based extravagance.
Fast-forward to 2019 and online check-in is standard, interactive screens litter the corridors, and wearable bracelets (or medallions) for on-demand food orders, drinks, payments and room access are commonplace. Royal Caribbean’s WOWbands look like watch straps, but use radio tech to open your cabin door, and Carnival’s pre-cruise service encourages guests to register all their details before departure, from passport numbers to food preferences. Some cruises even boast concierge robots. And bionic bartenders to pour you a beer.
In 2019, take full advantage of various smartphone apps which allow you to do a number of things such as browse the day-by-day schedule, search deck plans, make dinner reservations, view the spa menu etc. These include:
2. Conscious travel is here
It’s 2019 and cruise lines are hyper-aware that cruising should be eco-friendly. Every major cruise line is actively reducing their carbon footprint, from eliminating single-use plastics (those pesky straws are taking a perpetual dressing down) and clean-burning power sources. New ships such as the Costa Smeralda use liquefied natural gas (LNG), the cleanest-burning fossil fuel on the planet.
3. Wellness is key
If you want it, a fun, fit and health-orientated cruise awaits. From spas to oxygen bars, healthy menus and on-board PTs, you can easily come home feeling like a brand-new you.
Fitness innovations are extensive across the cruise lines, but a few standouts include The MSC Wellness Experience for healthy eating plans and on-board Tai Chi, spinning, Pilates and yoga, as well as Seabourn who have gone as far as seeking the expertise of noted wellness champ, Dr. Andrew Weil, with programs focused on meditation, restorative yoga and body alignment.
Perhaps the most exciting is Oceania, which offers health-inspired excursions in exotic locations. Try reflexology on a rice barge in Bangkok, meditation in Buenos Aires, or the Chinese exercise of Qigong in a rainforest, amongst others.
4. Holidays for achievement
From the Sydney bridge climb to conquering Machu Picchu, more and more travellers are looking for a cruise which rewards them with a sense of accomplishment. Whether that’s driving along the longest hanging bridge in the world in a UTV, courtesy of Carnival cruises, or learning the sailing basics on a “12 Metre America’s Cup Regatta” tour with Norwegian Cruise Line, achievement holidays are only getting bigger and better. You can climb the Mayan ruins in Mexico, grab a horse and gallop through the ocean in Jamaica, or learn how to tapas with a culinary discovery tour. Either way, you’ll return home with a brand-new bag of tricks.
5. Families favour cruises
CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) research last year discovered that nearly half of families that cruise bring the kids, compared with 29% of those traveling on land. There’s good reason for this: cruises are the ideal holiday for everyone to spend the day doing what they want (safely) and reconvening later for some quality family time. Many ships boast innovative on-board activities, such as ice skating, surf pools and even skydiving simulators, so you needn’t worry about boredom. Space wise, standard cabins fit two passengers comfortably, but can easily sleep a family of four. On the newer ships from Royal Caribbean and Norwegian you will find family suites large enough to accommodate the Brady bunch. And when you calculate everything that’s included in the price, cruises are incredibly good value for families.
6. Going solo is easier than ever
Cruises are increasingly targeting independent travellers, as well as couples, families and groups, which means being a solo adventurist has never been easier. Some cruises, such as Cunard, P&O UK and Norwegian Cruise Line have dedicated Single cabins that don’t incur a single supplement, while Silversea host a popular champagne Welcome Reception, allowing guests to meet and mingle from the get-go.
Gentlemen Hosts are available as dance partners or dinner companions on both Cunard, Silversea cruises and select Holland America Line cruises, and there are frequent meet-ups, social clubs and afternoon teas to attend. Norwegian Epic was the first Norwegian Cruise Line ship to feature studio cabins, and these are now common fleetwide, as well as across other cruise lines. On most ships, if you wish to eat with others, simply request to be seated at a larger table, with plenty of soon-to-be comrades and conversation.
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