Some significant trends are happening in the contemporary cruise space for 2024. New ship arrivals and cruises are attracting a fresh demographic.  

The next 12 months see some major changes in the contemporary space with younger passengers, the rise of multigenerational cruising, and more solo travellers. 

Cruise Lines International Association global figures show cruisers aged 40-59 now make up 32 per cent of the market, while those aged 20-39 make up 20 per cent of all cruisers.  

And cruise lines such as Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises Australia and Carnival Cruise Lines Australia are changing offerings to appeal to a much younger market with new ships and incentives. 

Rather than lectures, bridge competitions, and trivia, guests will instead see mixology drinks classes, livelier nightlife, and more dance parties.  

Lines are offering incentives to get younger cruisers onboard.

New ships to herald a new generation 

The new year is no sooner welcomed in than the first new ship for 2024 comes out. Royal Caribbean International’s Icon of the Seas, holding a whopping 7600 passengers, launches in the Caribbean and is nothing short of a floating city at sea, offering holidays for all ages and tastes. 

Families, foodies, couples, active sorts, luxury fans: Icon caters to them all with restaurants galore, water parks, pools, kids’ clubs, and suites with access to a private sundeck, pool, and restaurant.  

Leafy Central Park has real shrubs and lively Thrill Island has water slides and a scary ropes course on which those who dare can walk out over the side of the ship.

Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas sails into Miami.

And if you happen upon a waterfall, welcome to the AquaDome. At the front of the ship, it comes alive at night with bars, restaurants and dare-devil divers. 

July sees the return of Royal Caribbean, this time with Utopia of the Seas. It’s slightly smaller than Icon (5668 passengers) but lacks none of the excitement.  

There are lots of pools, waterslides, bars and restaurants on board (check out the new Pesky Parrot Caribbean Tiki Bar and train car dining experience) and more of all the above on Royal Caribbean’s Perfect Day island in the Bahamas, which Utopia visits on three and four-night cruises from Port Canaveral, Florida. 

Solo power

Another big trend in the contemporary cruise space for 2024 is a focus on the solo traveller.

Norwegian Cruise Line has started rolling out three new solo stateroom categories, including Solo Inside, Solo Oceanview and Solo Balcony.  

Guests who stay in the new solo stateroom categories will have keycard-only access to the Studio Lounge, available on select ships, which features a dedicated space to relax, a bar equipped with beer and wine and a variety of snacks served daily.  

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Ovation of the Seas and Spectrum of the Seas have dedicated solo cabins.

In addition to their own lounge,  solo cruisers will have dedicated activities scheduled to mix and mingle with other single travellers.  

From 2019 to 2022, Norwegian Cruise Line saw an increase in guests booking accommodation as a single occupant in non-studio staterooms.  

On Royal Caribbean, cruisers are offered solo cabins on half of the line’s fleet.  

And the line’s newer ships such as Anthem of the Seas, Quantum of the Seas, Ovation of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas, Spectrum of the Seas as well as Odyssey of the Seas have studio interior cabins that have a virtual view of the sea. 

Ship within a ship 

The growth of multigenerational cruising has made cruise lines innovative with offerings, such as higher-end accommodation areas for grandparents who might typically sail on luxury lines, while the parents and kids can enjoy amenities in the main ship.  

This is proving to be a big trend for 2024 in the contemporary cruise ship space.

Cruisers in this private area have access to separate public spaces such as restaurants, pool and their own bar. Generally, each stateroom will come with its own butler, and like most luxury ships, guests will have complimentary wines, spirits and beers.  

But they will also have priority seating and bookings for specialty dining and Broadway shows, as well as priority embarkation and disembarkation for shore excursions, and for the start and end of the cruise.  

MSC Yacht Club onboard MSC Splendida.

The MSC Yacht Club has been hugely successful – the suites on MSC Seashore for example, can measure up to 98sqm in the top penthouse. Of the MSC Seashore’s 2270 staterooms, 122 are dedicated to the private area.  

These suites will be located on the ship’s upper decks and guests will have their own entrance, and they will even have access to private shopping experiences.  

Where are we going 

Europe remains the hot ticket for contemporary cruisers, with more ships in the Mediterranean than ever before.  

But with home-grown brands such as P&O Cruises Australia and Carnival Cruise Line Australia sailing year-round Down Under, there are plenty of options to explore local ports.  

Winter is one of the best times to nab a good deal, but you will be at the mercy of the weather. This is when cruising is at its most affordable, due to rougher sea conditions.  

But if you are looking for a winter getaway, locally based ships will sail to the South Pacific from ports such as  Sydney and Brisbane. 

Find out what ship is best for you