In 2018, it’s expected that 27.2 million passengers will be taking a cruise. That number has been steadily increasing for a decade. The cruise industry is responding to demand with increased ships, refurbishments of existing vessels and new, exciting destinations. Today we'll take an in-depth look at the cruise industry and what we can expect in the future.
A Glance Back Into The Past Of Cruising
We can trace cruising back to the 1800's where the wealthy ruled the seas. Modern cruising has it’s roots in the 1960’s, although the ships were significantly smaller than what we see today (30,000 tonnes vs. today’s 200,000 tonnes!). They were also used primarily as a means to an end: getting from one port to the next.
The 70’s hit The Love Boat is credited, at least partly, for bringing about the idea that life of a cruise ship was worth experiencing in itself. Today, boats such as Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of The Seas feature amenities such as waterslides, a sky-diving simulator, roller-skating rink, rock climbing, movie theatres, and even a circus school.
What's New In Destinations
Popular cruise destinations include the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Alaska are among a growing list of new destinations that are opening up to cruise liners. Cozumel, Mexico reigns supreme, and was named "the most popular cruise port visited" for general cruise ships in the Cruise Trends report by CruiseCompete.com. SeaHub has put together further data about location popularity by scanning Instagram.
Today’s cruisers are also likely to take themed cruises, choosing locations based on activities such as birding, historical and cultural tours, tv show cruises, running/activity cruises and more.
Smartship Technology Is Paving The Way
Cruiselines are responding to customer demand for technology to enhance the cruise experience, and also to help them run their cruises more efficiently. Remote check-ins are a major win for both crew and passengers, allowing passengers to complete all documentation digitally that’s needed for check in prior to boarding.
Recent onboard technology includes MSC Cruises’ MSC for Me interactive wristband which works with an app to provide 130 smart features, including a digital way-finder and a speedy reservation service.
Other apps help guests find their way around ships, track their children, book specialty dining and more.
What Else Is Next for Cruising?
Cruise cabins of the future will focus on bringing the “Wow” factor to guests. Large lofts and ensuites are one thing, but video walls streaming starry night skies might just be the next on a Royal Caribbean International mockup.
“The idea is to make the walls feel less solid,” an RCI spokesperson said. “We wanted to create a space where people could see views of the ocean and skies from inside their cabin, without having to necessarily go to the promenade of the ship.”
As ships go more high-tech, compete for bigger and better amenities, they are also getting larger.
Cruise industry analyst Tony Peisley says:
“One innovation stands head and shoulders above all others when it comes to explaining the improved profitability of the cruise sector and its relentless drive for growth and that is the creation of the ‘mega-ship’. We can expect to see plenty more – and probably even larger - cruise ships in the future.”