DETROIT, Mich. – CruiseCompete, the Web’s premier online cruise marketplace since 2003, presents a peek at industry trends cruise consumers can expect in 2013.
From amenities like private outside showers while you gaze at the sea, to truly all-inclusive with everything from shore excursions to airfare included, and 14 new river ships on order, the cruise industry continues to exceed expectations.
1. Cruise lines becoming all-inclusive. The luxury lines lead the way with the most inclusive packages with amenities like airfare and pre/post-hotel stays. Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn currently offer the most all-inclusive packages.
2. Repositioning cruises a “must-do.” Repositioning cruises used to be utilitarian sailings, with more days at sea and fewer “bells and whistles” and ports of call than traditional cruises. New repositioning cruises integrate more unique ports than one would visit on destination cruises. Leading is Crystal Cruises, with an impressive offering in 2013.
3. Demand swells for river cruises. Fourteen new ships are slated for 2013, including cruising on the mighty Mississippi. Some examples: Viking River has ordered 10 more ships and in 2014 Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will be launching a new Super Ship, the S.S. Catherine, on the Rhône and Saône rivers in Burgundy and Provence.
4. Travelers want to see, not hear. To that end and because we are squarely in the middle of the digital age, consumer demand is calling for easy access to video footage of the lines and cruise destinations. AllThingsCruise has added a video library so travel consumers can see actual footage of the ships they are considering for future voyages.
5. Romance and love take center stage. A cruise is a wonderful way to celebrate or rekindle love and the cruise lines offer a host of settings and services to do just that.
• Princess Cruises’ “Lotus Spa” offers a couple’s massage in the suite reserved for two. They also offer the top romance themes to woo cruise travelers to cruise ships for engagements, weddings and honeymoons.
• Hapag-Lloyd’s 5-Star MS Europa offers a “Honeymoon Special,” with added extras if the voyage is taken within six months of the wedding. It’s also applicable for 10th, 20th, 25th, 30th, 40th, 50th, 60th and 65th wedding anniversaries (up to one month before or after the wedding anniversary). A copy of the marriage certificate is needed.
• Celebrity’s Reflection offers the chance to take a private outside shower as you watch the sea go by.
• And don’t forget specialized shore excursions, like an Exclusive Hana Picnic on a black-sand beach, Bosphorus Cruise by Private Boat or Roatan Island Escape Spa Package.
6. Cruise lines bring ship experiences to land. Celebrity recently chose the port of San Francisco as the site of the first ever cruise line pop-up restaurant. Choosing the Stable Cafe in the Mission District as its base of operations, Celebrity brought an “earth-and-sea” theme to the public with Celebrity’s Director of Culinary Operations, James Beard-featured chef John Suley.
7. Giving back. Now more than ever, the cruise lines are making impressive contributions to improving our world, with involvement in green initiatives, volunteer work and charitable contributions. Some recent noteworthy examples are Disney’s new global paper policy and FCCA member lines holiday deliveries.
8. Onboard entertainment unique partnerships. The cruise lines are becoming more creative and thinking outside the box with entertainment. Examples include Crystal Cruises partnership with Magic Castle, P&O’s Strictly Come Dancing Cruises and Cunard’s partnership with the Royal Opera House and RealD.
9. Families even more important. Whether it’s an annual family cruise or a multigenerational family reunion, families have become key to filling cruise ships. With this in mind, cruise lines are raising the bar to exceed family expectations for cruises. (If you’re traveling with young children, be sure to read CruiseCompete’s Annual Update for Traveling with Infants and Young Children.) Initiatives include:
• Enhanced shore excursions
Disney has some intriguing offerings: Adults and children alike will learn cooking with a local chef in Tuscany; children dress up in traditional Russian outfits for a visit to St. Petersburg.
• Over-the-top accommodations
Families can spend more time together in their loft suites and private concierge areas and in private areas with such fun activities as miniature golf courses on the ships.