Travelers today are setting out to new places, traveling farther than ever before, and taking their friends and families along for the ride. As the groups exploring the high seas together get bigger, including more generations than ever, the cruise lines are stepping up with larger accommodations designed to keep everyone close but comfy.
The suites on Seabourn, for example, are designed to fit different types of travelers, including families traveling with nannies and multigenerational groups. Connecting suites are designed to accommodate larger families, and many premium suites connect to a veranda suite, such as the GrandWintergarden Suite, so families can sleep in separate bedrooms.
"We continue to see families sailing with us as a way to enjoy travel experiences together, particularly during the summer season,” said Chris Austin, Seabourn's senior vice president of global marketing and sales. “We offer a variety of activities and entertainment, as well as many interesting excursions ashore, that allow families to have a fun and exciting trip together in fascinating destinations around the world."
MSC Cruises, meanwhile, has taken the trend toward multigenerational trips to heart and added larger accommodations on its two newest classes of ships, Maraviglia and Seaside. The two new ships debuting this year, MSC Grandiosa and MSC Bellissima — and all new builds for the next 10 years — will offer connecting staterooms that allow up to 10 people to share their cruise experience, in addition to Royal Suites and SuperFamily Suites.
“We are absolutely seeing more intergenerational travel, and those cabins are among the first to sell out,” said Lori Sheller, senior vice president for strategic sales and groups at MSC Cruises USA. And since they are more complicated trips and involve larger sums of money, they also are more likely to be booked through the travel advisor channel.
In addition, Sheller said, for many family vacations, the grandparents book Yacht Club cabins, and use the extra space, private pools and restaurants in the Yacht Club to socialize with their families.
Carnival’s new Vista-class ships are another example of reacting to the shifting market. Family Harbor cabins offer a dedicated area designed to make everyone feel at home with breakfast, snacks and games throughout the day. The largest Family Harbor staterooms have five berths and two bathrooms.
The rooms also have grown in size over the years on Regent Seven Seas Cruises, where nearly all (98 percent) of the rooms are suites with balconies. Both the Regent Suite and Master Suite have two bedrooms for family or friends to travel together.
On Holland America, families can book one of 32 Family Oceanview staterooms on Pinnacle Class ships, including the Koningsdam and Nieuw Statendam, as well as the upcoming third ship in the class.
Norwegian Cruise Line, too, has "evolved to meet the changing dynamics of the modern traveler." Norwegian Epic was the first ship in the industry to offer studio suites designed and priced for individual travelers sailing with a larger group or on their own. And The Haven by Norwegian offers plenty of space for larger family groups to gather. Norwegian Joy is the first and only ship in the fleet to offer Concierge suites, which feature private dining, 24-hour concierge service and spacious staterooms (up to 561 square feet) that can accommodate up to six people in two separate bedrooms. Upon the ship's debut to the U.S. in April, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy this category of stateroom as they cruise to Alaska or down the West Coast of the U.S. and along the Mexican Riviera.
For budget-conscious families, connecting staterooms are a terrific option. And on the new Celebrity Edge, the 16 Infinite veranda suites are 23 percent larger than Solstice Class Suites, and the 12 Sky Family Suites can be combined with Sunset Veranda Suites for family groups.
The luxury sector, too, is seeing growth in family travel. Crystal Cruises, for example, also has been outfitting its ships to embrace intergenerational families.
“The trend in multigenerational families traveling together continues, and Crystal rises to meet this demand more than any other luxury cruise line,” said Carmen Roig, senior vice president of marketing and sales. “Crystal’s penthouses offer adjoining capabilities and shared entryways, and nearly all offer third berth options for guests ages 17 and under. Additionally, the new Seabreeze Penthouses on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity offer enough space to have friends and family over for afternoon tea.”
Even ships that don’t have cabins designed specifically for large groups will make large families feel comfortable. Viking Ocean Cruises and Paul Gauguin, for example, noted that their reservation departments will work to place groups on the same floor and in nearby staterooms whenever possible.