Younger cruisers, high-tech family cruising – and much bigger ships
In a roundtable discussion on the topic of trends in the cruise industry, the CEOs and presidents of major cruise companies were brought together by USA Today. Explaining the attraction of cruising, Karl Holz, president of Disney Cruise Line, says that “cruising provides you a very convenient way to experience a destination.” With Hawaii, for example: “You see an island, you return to the ship, you enjoy yourselves over dinner and the next thing you know you’re at another island.” Common misperceptions about cruising are that it’s for an older demographic and that there’s not much to do; yet the opposite is true. The average age of cruisers is becoming younger, while family cruising has really taken off with high-tech kids’ and teens’ clubs. Cruise lines are also battling the common idea that it’s too expensive, despite the all-inclusive nature of such a vacation.
A major trend is that the ships are getting bigger. Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas can carry in excess of 6,000 people – almost twice as many as the biggest ships of the 1990s. These bigger ships are helping cruise lines deal with higher fuel prices. But that often comes at the expense of flexibility. The number of ports able to handle enormous cruise vessels is limited.
The cruise industry is also much more global. Different new destinations are being developed. But the western Caribbean and Europe will remain viable destinations for a long time to come.
[pictured: The new 18-deck Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas sails carefully under Denmark’s Storebaelt Bridge after leaving the Turku shipyard in Finland; courtesy Royal Caribbean International]