This year will be one of the biggest for cruise holidays with some new advancements, ships and more people taking to the sea. So what are the cool new cruise trends for 2018?
We talk to travel experts on how they see the market and what they predict will be cruise trends for this year.
APT is seeing a “big increase” in foodie tours particularly on its Vietnam and Mekong river cruises hosted by celebrity chef Luke Nguyen.
“Market visits, winery harvests, cooking classes and wine tasting are at the top of most foodies wish lists when travelling,” said Scott Ellis, national sales manager of APT.
Small ships and expeditions
“Small ship and exploration cruising is extremely popular with destinations such as Papua New Guinea and Iceland selling out extremely quickly for 2018.
“Antarctica continues to be a must see for any avid traveller as does anything in the Arctic region such as our Greenland Exploration Luxury Small Ship Cruise,” Mr Ellis said.
Australians are also booking ahead for Northern Europe, according to Bicton Travel.
“Established cruisers are heading to Northern Europe like Norway, Greenland and Iceland. Japan is also the flavour of the month for all age groups,’’ said Barry Downs, sales and marketing manager for Bicton Travel.
Expedition cruisers to the Antarctic and exotic places such as South America and Cuba are attracting well-travelled cruisers.
Others are looking for “safe destinations” such as Northern Europe, Baltics and Scandinavia while those on a budget will look to Asia to experience a river cruise, said Cos Matteo, national sales and business development manager of Holidays of Australia and the World.
River cruise alternatives
“We are also seeing lots of excitement around “virgin cruisers”, those who are new to cruising as well as millennial cruisers.
“River cruise demand for 2018 is also strong but not for the usual Amsterdam to Budapest route. People are looking for alternative itineraries such as Amsterdam to Basel.
“Repeat river cruisers who are returning for a second or third time, are now looking at Northern and Southern France journeys,’’ Mr Downs said.
Bicton said those heading to the Mediterranean especially the Iberian Peninsular, may find limited berths available this year. Many are looking to book for 2019 particularly if they want their cruise to start or end in Spain or Portugal.
The Mediterranean continues a drawcard for Australians travelling to Europe and many are taking back to back cruises as an easy option to see more of Europe. Others are combining an ocean cruise with a river cruise in Europe so that they can have two different experiences, said Mr Matteo
There will be a rise in traveller-friendly technology on board like the ocean medallion on Princess Cruises. These wearable technology pieces provide seamless experience for cruisers to make reservations for dinner, book shore excursions and even turn on the lights as passengers approach their cabin.
“Consumers want the latest gadgets,’’ said Mr Matteo.
Health and wellness
Travellers will also seek health and wellness holidays on the sea – particularly female cruisers. Mothers and daughters and large groups of the ladies are looking for pampering holidays. Cruise lines are responding to this trend by widening their fitness classes with custom fitness programs, stress management and wellness seminars. On the spa front, lines have upped their ante by offering a wider range of special treatments and massages. Often these are complemented with healthier food options, vegetarian meals and low fat, less sugar and diabetic-friendly choices.
“It’s all about healthy lifestyle options and wellness experience packages,’’ Mr Matteo said.
Skip-a-generation cruising will also become more popular this year according to Cruise Lines International Association. Instead of three generations, grandparents are opting to take their grandchildren on cruises, leaving out their parents. These bonding holidays usually mark birthday celebrations or graduations.