The good news: The cruise industry is expected to grow by 6 percent in 2019, with 18 new ships setting sail and 30 million travelers taking to the sea.
The even better news: More than eight out of 10 CLIA-certified travel agents expect to see their cruise sales grow in the next 12 months. And the top trends in the “2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook,” released today by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), point to tips for travel agents selling cruise vacations.
Here’s the list of the top trends for 2019 and what they mean for travel agents:
Instagrammable cruise travel. If you are not on Instagram yet, it’s time to give it a try. “Instagram posts are driving interest in travel around the world,” the report says, with many days seeing more than 350 million posts tagged #travel, as cruisers and travel agents post photos onboard and on land.
Total restoration. “Stressed out from fast-paced lives, travelers are seeking ways to check out from daily responsibilities and rejuvenate more than ever before,” CLIA reports. Be sure to tell clients about the wellness options onboard the ships they are considering, including restorative spa experiences, onboard oxygen bars, healthy menu choices, and the latest in fitness innovations.
Achievement over experience. “Vacationers are looking for immersive, cultural experiences beyond sightseeing. Bucket lists have become more goal-oriented and cruise lines are meeting these demands,” says CLIA, with excursions like hiking Machu Picchu or culinary workshops hosted by Le Cordon Bleu chefs. Find out your clients’ interests and mention onboard offerings that match.
Onboard with smart tech. The wearable technology includes keychains, necklaces, and bracelets designed to provide a highly personalized travel experience.
Conscious travel. “Travelers want to see the world in a conscious, mindful way,” says the report, and cruise lines are working with local communities to preserve their heritage and decrease the environmental footprint. Ask if your clients are interested in touring a local school or volunteering.
Access is the new luxury. “Travelers are setting their sights on destinations that were previously out of reach, some only accessible now by cruise ship,” according to CLIA. Suggest bucket list destinations like the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.
Gen Z at sea. Generation Z is set to become the largest consumer generation in the next two years, CLIA says, and this age group is looking for multiple destinations and unique experiences, such as music festivals at sea.
Off-peak adventures. CLIA prompts agents to suggest traveling during the off-peak season, when travelers can “escape the cold in a tropical place or embrace the chill in a new destination. Cruising offers some once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the colder months that include: excursions to see the Northern Lights, visiting a penguin colony, and touring European Christmas Markets.”
Working nomads. Many modern travelers or “digital nomads” are opting for trips where they can work remotely. Don’t hesitate to suggest longer trips, where “WiFi and work-friendly cafes can help them keep up with work while enjoying a cruise vacation,” offers CLIA.
Female-centered cruising. Many travel companies are creating female-centered itineraries based on shared interests and connecting women. CLIA says, “Female-centered cruises can create a female empowerment community at sea while allowing travelers to experience the world around them, as well as visit famous feminist landmarks.”
Going solo. Cruising is a great option for solo travelers, allowing them to “visit even the most far-reaching destinations and connect with other travelers, form community bonds, and experience once-in-a-lifetime things,” the CLIA reports notes.
Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association, said: “Research and forecasting the year ahead allows the cruise industry an opportunity to take a big-picture look at the cruise and travel industries to evaluate and predict all of the exciting things to come. The coming year’s trends truly reflect the intersection between the experiences travelers seek and the cruise industry’s innovations.”
Eighteen new vessels
An impressive number of new ships will be coming online in 2019 from CLIA-member companies. Here they are:
- Greg Mortimer, Aurora Expeditions
- Carnival Panorama, Carnival Cruise Line
- Celebrity Flora, Celebrity Cruises
- Venezia and Smeralda, Costa Cruises
- Coral Adventurer, Coral Expeditions
- Hanseatic Nature and Hanseatic Inspiration, Hapag-Lloyd
- MSC Grandiosa and MSC Bellissima, MSC Cruises
- Norwegian Encore, Norwegian Cruise Line
- Le Dumont-d’Urville and Le Bougainville, PONANT Yacht Cruises and Expeditions
- Sky Princess, Princess Cruises
- Spectrum of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International
- Scenic Eclipse, Scenic Luxury Cruises and Tours
- Spirit of Discovery, Saga Cruises
- Mein Schiff 2, TUI Cruises
Read the full report here.