Welcome to cruising 2015, a time when robot bartenders serve the cocktails, formal nights are making a comeback and the buffet is giving way to something much more exciting.
It is expected to be the year Australian cruising reaches an industry milestone of 1 million cruisers.
Nine new ocean ships will be launched, introducing 13,898 extra berths at sea.
Viking will become the first river cruise line to enter the ocean cruising market, launching its own big ship.
Ponant is introducing some of the largest suites aboard a luxury adventure vessel.
And the Canary Islands is leaping into the forefront as the ideal island cruising getaway.
These are just a few of the exciting headlines you can expect to see in the year ahead.
To kick off the new year we share our list of trends and destinations that are set to make waves in cruising in the next 12 months.
It’s time to say farewell to a few old cruising traditions and to welcome some exciting new innovations. For a start, cruise lines have reinvented onboard dining.
On Quantum of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas, Royal Caribbean has adopted Norwegian Cruise Line’s diverse dining concept by removing the main dining hall from the two ships in favour of three different venues with individual menus.
Multiple restaurants give guests more choice and, by allowing them to make their own bookings, no set dining times.
This “Dynamic Dining” concept will also feature on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas (the latter to be launched in April).
Meanwhile, P&O Cruises has done away with the popular buffet aboard its two new vessels. In its place, Pacific Eden and Pacific Aria will have The Pantry, a food-court-style venue.
“The Australian cruise tourist is young, savvy and worldly. They don’t want a buffet or a chicken schnitzel – they want more,” P&O Cruises senior vice-president Tammy Marshall says.
But don’t be too saddened by the demise of the buffet and dining room, because once-popular traditions like formal nights are making a comeback.
Royal Caribbean is bringing the classic night back in The Grande Restaurant aboard Quantum and Oasis. The luxurious restaurant is designed to reflect an era when dining was more than just another meal.
And don’t forget Cunard’s three Queens are always up for a classical evening, hosting formal nights regularly on all itineraries.
While 2014 was all about sushi and Asian fusion restaurants, 2015 will have a more Mexican flavour on some ships. During Carnival Spirit’s $44 million makeover, she will receive two Mexican-inspired venues – The Blue Iguana Cantina serving tacos and burritos; and the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar.
While we’re on the topic of food, in 2015 more cruisers will be able to fill their sea days with cooking lessons.
Cruise ships like P&O’s Britannia, which launches in March, will turn cruisers into culinary experts by offering cookery classes.
Meanwhile, if you’re a single male looking for your other half you may have a better chance of finding her on a ship than on land.
Cruise lines have found women are bigger fans of cruising than males, which is why in 2015 they’re readjusting their marketing techniques to target 30-55-year-old female travellers.
For more trends, pick up a copy of our latest magazine or see more here.