The popularity of cruising continues to soar, with an estimated 30 million travelers taking to the water in 2019, a 6% increase over 2018, according to Cruise Lines International Association.
Whether you’re looking to cruise for the first time or are a repeat cruiser, these trends can help you choose where to sail next.
Cruise lines are adding new itineraries, enhancements and ships to offer more choices. Among the news is the start of the $500 million fleetwide modernization by Celebrity Cruises, including Celebrity Millennium, Celebrity Summit and Celebrity Equinox (pictured above). Six more ships are slated to be modernized by 2023.
In February, Disney Cruise Line will have a ship based in Louisiana, with cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Panama Canal setting off from New Orleans.
Princess Cruises’ newest ship, Sky Princess, debuts in the Mediterranean in October.
Fresh from a complete renovation, Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas sails out of Cape Liberty, N.J., in May 2020. It heads to the Bahamas in summer 2020, visiting the new Perfect Day at CocoCay private island.
River Cruising Soars
River cruising has been booming the last few years. Though the interest is dominated by baby boomers and members of Generation X, millennials have the third-greatest growth in cruise bookings (36%), according to CLIA.
U River Cruises is addressing this demand by giving younger guests a cruise line designed just for them. Most passengers are in their 30s, though U welcomes passengers ages 18 and up. The U fleet consists of two 120-passenger ships sailing through Europe on the Rhine, Danube, Main and Seine rivers.
“U was designed with specific intention for the way today’s younger travelers want to experience the world,” said Ellen Bettridge, president & CEO of Uniworld River Cruises. “Unlike the generations before them, they are not waiting to travel. They are working on their bucket list destinations now and are demanding products that fulfill their desire for authenticity, value and style.”
U offers longer stays in port, Bettridge said, so guests can explore cities both during the day and at night. The line also offers high-adventure excursions and new ways for guests to socialize, including onboard parties and communal dining tables.
Regional cruises like those offered by Greek cruise line Celestyal Cruises provide travelers with an authentic experience at sea with itineraries focusing on its home destination.
Among its offerings, the line’s three- and four-night Iconic Aegean itineraries out of Piraeus are Greek island-intensive, with several port stops, plus Kusadasi, Turkey. The seven-night Idyllic Aegean itinerary out of Piraeus features enhanced time in four Greek island destinations, including two overnights in Mykonos and Santorini, plus a fifth stop in Kusadasi.
“We’re very much a destination-led cruise line,” said Leslie Peden, Celestyal’s chief commercial officer. “For us, the destination is the hero and the cruise happens to be the vehicle to get to the destination.”
On the ship, Celestyal takes the DNA of the region and weaves it throughout the onboard product, Peden said. Highlights include a Greek deli featuring locally sourced products, Greek wines, and a shopping area filled with goods from local artisans, while its onboard entertainment offerings are tinged with Greek mythology and history.