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The cruise market is as big as it has ever been, but it is still relatively small compared to the international travel industry as a whole. That means travel advisors can make a lot of money if they can innovate as much as ocean, river and expedition brands. And travel professionals are just as much a part of the equation as the lines themselves. Consider these trends to ignite your creativity and inspire fresh marketing approaches to get your clients onboard the multitude of new and upcoming ships setting sail.
Rides and Attractions Gain New HeightsOur prediction for last year’s cruise innovations came true: A full-scale rollercoaster is coming to the seas. Carnival Cruise Line will install Bolt — what it calls the “Ultimate Sea Coaster” — on its new Mardi Gras ship in 2020. Bolt will measure 800 feet in length and hit speeds of up to 40 mph. And it’s not the only rollercoaster headed to a vessel. Dream Cruises plans to best Carnival with its own 984-foot Space Cruiser on the 2021 Global Dream. Expect elaborate attractions to continue to be a competitive focal point onboard future ships.
Clients Look Beyond Traditional DestinationsThere is no slowing down in the European river cruise segment, as more ships are scheduled to come online, but brands are also looking elsewhere to satisfy clients’ wanderlust. As veteran travelers consider alternatives to mainstream destinations, brands including Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection and Viking are anticipating new ships for the Nile River in Egypt. Aqua Expeditions and Uniworld are doing the same in South America on the Amazon River, and in Asia on the Mekong River, respectively. Guests who prefer a domestic river cruise can look to American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company, which are preparing new riverboats for the Mississippi River.
The Expedition Market Is ExpandingGone are the days of refurbishing tired old ships into luxury equivalents; the expedition cruise renaissance is nigh. Dozens of expedition ship newbuilds are on the way through at least 2023, which amounts to the largest-ever collection of purpose-built vessels in the market.
“While I believe it’s great to provide travelers with diverse opportunities, I do have concerns that there will be consequences, as well,” said Sven Lindblad, CEO of Lindblad Expeditions, specifically citing “crowding in remote places and potential accidents due to lack of experience.”
So, advisors, it’s important to do your research and put your clients on the appropriate sailings.
It’s Time to Leverage New CruisersThe cruise industry is booming: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) projected 30 million global ocean passengers in 2019, a number that has grown consistently year over year. And there is still enormous potential to bring new travelers into the fold. The cruise sector makes up only 2% of the overall global travel industry, according to CLIA, which means there are still plenty of new-to-cruise customers out there. And brands are targeting them hard and heavy. For example, Virgin Voyages, which will debut in 2020, has thrown out the standard playbook and is calling on “sailors” to discover unique experiences, such as getting inked in an onboard tattoo parlor.
The DetailsAmerican Cruise Lineswww.americancruiselines.com
American Queen Steamboat Companywww.americanqueensteamboatcompany.com
Carnival Cruise Linewww.carnival.com
Uniworld Boutique Cruise Collectionwww.uniworld.com