Cruise trends for 2020 include far-flung, pristine destinations, driven by a desire for immersion in each location, according to global luxury travel network Virtuoso.
“In 2020, cruisers are choosing itineraries based on destinations and the more unusual and faraway, the better,” said Beth Butzlaff, VP, cruise sales at Virtuoso about cruise trends. “Passengers want to enjoy the essence of these places through interactions with local people and culture, and the industry has responded with innovative offerings to satisfy evolving preferences.”
Virtuoso’s top cruise trends for 2020 follow:
According to a Virtuoso-YouGov survey, the number-one reason travelers are interested in cruises is the ability to visit multiple destinations. No longer just focused on the Caribbean or Mediterranean, cruise ships visit ports as diverse as Muscat, Oman; Manta, Ecuador; and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. In fact, bookings for Silversea’s first Expedition World Cruise in 2021 are outpacing those for its classic World Cruise. The expedition cruise is visiting unusual ports including Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; Ksamil, Albania; and Bawemataluwo, Indonesia.
Among the top cruise trends are new itineraries and shore excursions that provide more destination immersion. Azamara offers three ways to further that connection with a locale: late-night and overnight stays, complimentary evening performances in port and shore excursions that encourage deeper connections with local people and cultures. also offers cultural, culinary, adventure and mindful-living experiences during shore excursions, bringing the destination to life for passengers.
Cold is Hot
Lines as varied as Crystal, Seabourn, Viking and Ponant are offering more expedition cruises as the boom in adventurous cruising continues building. Passengers seeking pure, scenic destinations are attracted to chilly locales such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland and Norway’s fjords. Cruise lines are also providing more once-in-a-lifetime experiences on these voyages. Silversea offers a private-jet trip so passengers can stand next to the South Pole marker, and Quark Expeditions will feature heli-skiing in Antarctica in 2021.
Cruise lines are responding to consumers’ growing awareness of sustainability by implementing more environmentally friendly technology and programs to boost the destinations they visit, both economically and culturally. Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Aqua Expeditions and Royal Caribbean International are among those leading the way. According to the Cruise Lines International Association, by 2030, the cruise industry has committed to reducing its fleet-wide rate of CO² emissions by 40 percent. As well, the economic impact on the communities that cruise ships visit is enormous, sustaining 1.1 million jobs equaling $45.6 billion in wages.
Micro-trips, perfect for incentive groups, are trending in the cruise world. Lines such as Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity and Virgin Voyages offer 2- to 5-night Caribbean cruises. Equally convenient, winners have multiple options for their port of departure, with Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, New Orleans and Galveston, TX all offering micro-cruises.
Exploring the USA
While many cruisers pursue adventures in far-off lands, others are choosing itineraries closer to home. Cruise lines featuring U.S. sailings are flourishing, with American Queen’s Mississippi River cruises in particularly high demand. The appeal extends beyond Americans, as Australians who want to cruise the legendary river are also booking voyages. Another trending U.S. river is the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia, with cruises offered by American Queen and UnCruise.
The Suite Life
Treat your incentive winners to a suite. Remember, suite inventory is relatively small, specifically for spacious owner’s and penthouse suites, so this demand has inspired lines to open itineraries well in advance, especially for world cruises. With 2020 bookings strong, cruisers are bumping sailing dates out as far as 2022.
The original version of this story ran in sister publication Recommend and can be accessed here.