With 2017 well underway, CruiseCompete has compiled a list of 12 luxury trends that will drive cruise travel in the coming year. They are:
1. You Have to Apply to Join This Vacation, A Three Month Foreign Adventure – Websites like Unfixed Points (www.UnfixedPoints.com), where travelers live their life on vacation, are growing. UnfixedPoints.com offers the chance to experience three different South American cities for 30 days each, in a program that includes transportation, housing, work space, 24/7 in-country support, plus social events and excursions with a peer group of about 30 other adventurous travelers. The services are aimed at people who can work remotely via the Internet, including writers, programmers, entrepreneurs, and consultants.
2. Private Cabin Robots – As the luxury sector begins to explore private robot butlers for apartment living, luxury cruise lines will begin to implement the technology aboard 5-star ships. Using a special tablet, guests will be able to request that the robot butlers perform tasks such as delivering packages, supplies, meals and drinks right to the door of their cabin- without ever having to make a customer service call. Think this sounds like something from the Jetsons? The technology is already available, and goes into practice via electronic valets in a Los Angeles luxury apartment building called “Ten Thousand” that opens to renters in January.
3. Suites Are Hot! Modern Young Families like Suites as They Travel with Children – Millennials love to take their children with them on vacation and need space for the family luggage, children’s playthings and all the other accoutrements that come with family travel.
4. Redefining Ultra Luxury Cruises – With the launch of all-suite, all-balcony, 750-passenger Seven Seas Explorer in July 2016, Regent Seven Seas brought what they consider "the world's most luxurious ship ever built" into the game, CruiseCompete said. Christened by Her Serene Highness Princess Charlene of Monaco, this ship has 375 all-suite, all-balcony accommodations, impeccable dining and Gourmet Explorer Tours. Look for the lines to follow this ship’s example.
5. All-Inclusive Cruise Vacations – A wide variety of lines are offering all-inclusive cruises, including more amenities such as Internet, specialty coffees, all cocktails, airfare, shore excursions, and more. As an example, Viking Cruises, who recently entered the ocean-faring sector with their Viking Ocean ships offers many inclusions on their ship, the Viking Star. Every stateroom has a balcony, and includes 24-hour room service, Wi-Fi, access to the full Nordic-themed spa, laundry facilities, and all onboard meals (which include beer and wine). There is also an included excursion in every port.
6. The Room Key Will Be Key – The technology for keys will change, and take on new form and features. A simple waterproof bracelet will be your room key, and offer you the ability to check in for reservations, enter exclusive areas, open the pool gate, charge food and merchandise purchases, and much more. This technology is already in place in Disney Resorts, and you’ll see it spread like wildfire through the cruise industry as cruise lines up the convenience factor.
The included GPS technology will also allow keep an eye on children electronically- guests will be able to see where family and friends are at the twist of your wrist.
7. Experiential Travel – The experiential travel movement is already underway with shore excursions like Azamara Club Cruises' Insider Access program, where excursions travel to private homes, farms, villas, and more to experience the local culture. Look for this trend to expand, as the cruise lines delve deeper into the regions they visit.
8. The Ship is the Destination – With ships that cater to a guest’s every whim, days at sea seem to be gaining in popularity. Many lines are offering cruises that stay almost completely at sea, with very limited times in port.
9. Live Entertainment Taking on New Forms – Holland America’s Koningsdam’s World Stage, for example has high-definition LED screens that are two stories high and 250 feet long, and can showcase a variety of performances and productions. Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas offers ROBOSHOW Two70’s troupe of six agile Roboscreens that measure over seven feet each and are controlled by powerful robotic arms. Despite their size, these robots are surprisingly nimble as they perform independently or as a group.
10. River Cruise Lines Step Up Destinations, and Ships – Demand has created a new destination focus for river cruise lines- India. AmaWaterways is currently building a new ship estimated to sail in fall 2018, and whose cruising route will be on the Ganges River between Patna and Kolkata. Other exotic new river destinations gaining popularity for 2017 include Borneo and Africa, with cruises being pioneered by lines such as Pandaw and CroisiEurope. CroisiEurope intends to launch two new ships into Africa in 2017 and 2018, respectively, and Pandaw will be starting cruises in Borneo in February 2017.
11. New Destinations – Interest in expedition cruising has surged, and look for this trend to continue. Beginning in 2017, we’ll be seeing the addition of new ships dedicated to adventure cruising. The refurbished Celebrity Xperience and Celebrity Xploration will join the line’s fleet in January and will cruise the Galapagos. Lindblad Expeditions launches its brand-new ship, National Geographic Quest, in June 2017 in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. Due to the interest in planet-friendly eco-tourism, more will follow in short order, CruiseCompete said.
12. Apps for Cruise Travel – Apps come in a variety of incarnations- there are apps designed by the cruise lines, and independent designs that make everything from organizing your trip to finding Wi-Fi in port a snap.