While the growth of the cruise industry is no secret, new figures have emerged detailing just how ambitious several lines are in making the most of the current surge in popularity.
The news comes as notable cruise lines continue to prosper, with Royal Caribbean predicting further success in the coming years. It’s translating well to the consumer side of the equation also, as Norwegian Cruise Lines reported an enviable uptake for its premium all-inclusive offering.
Yet the real evidence of cruising’s strength comes following the publication of CLIA’s State of the Industry 2018. The report suggests that 27.2 million passengers will cruise this year, and that 449 CLIA Cruise Line ships are already active as of the close of 2017.
However, 2018 will see a further 27 cruise ships take to international waters. These new vessels will focus not only on mainstay destinations like the Caribbean, seeing 35.4% of the deployments in 2018, but increasingly selective destinations like Asia and Alaska, seeing 4.4% and 4.3% of deployments respectively.
Ian Crawford of CruiseDeals.co.uk comments, “2018 looks set to be one of the biggest years in cruise industry history, with a huge selection of new ships expected to launch. The variety on offer only goes to prove how far cruising has come in making itself accessible to everybody, with pretty much every demographic covered.”
Indeed, sprawling resort-style ships like Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas are matched by smaller river-going cruise vessels launched to cater to the city-break millennial sector.
he report also indicates a number of new trends in cruise travel, such as smart technologies and a wider variation in the budgets of cruise passengers. Each are shaping the ships being launched in 2018.
“You’ve got Celebrity Edge, which features the Eden space that mixes plant life and lounge bar aesthetics. Then Symphony of the Seas offers shopping complexes, its own aqua park and a range of Broadway entertainment. There really is something for everybody”, concludes Crawford.
On the more adventurous side, ships including Norwegian Bliss will bring entertainment at sea to new frontiers. Features such as the largest racetrack afloat and the waterslides woven around the ship’s decks make sure she appeals to all ages, while the focus on the Caribbean and Alaska is a key example of the line’s desire to be active in both established and emerging cruising markets.
With both giants of the cruise industry and smaller businesses keeping the hype for cruising high throughout 2018, this could well turn out to be a landmark year. The vessels being launched are of a scale and complexity never before seen, and will doubtlessly set new precedents for the cruise industry going forward.