Cruise Planners said it has seen an increase in travelers booking their vacations further out and with many vacations for 2017 already booked, the company shares the top travel trends of 2017:
1. Accessible Travel
Travel is becoming even more accessible for guests of all abilities and ages. One example is Royal Caribbean International, which was the first cruise line to receive Autism Friendly Certification by Autism on the Seas for inclusive programming designed to accommodate children with autism, ensuring that every child has a memorable vacation. On shore, excursion offerings catering specifically to guests in wheelchairs or with other needs are increasing in availability and Cruise Planners has made the commitment to train travel agents on the best way to help service clients through its relationship with Special Needs at Sea. Now, Cruise Planners travel agents can offer mobility equipment rentals right at the departure facilities to simplify travelers’ needs and some worldwide cruise ports are being designed with inclusiveness in mind to ensure an easy boarding process for all guests.
2. Inclusive Pricing
Cruise lines are streamlining guests’ booking experience by offering more inclusive packages. In order to meet a travelers’ desire for a unique and customizable vacation, cruise lines generally offer a variety of add-ons such as shore excursions, specialty dining, Internet bundles and premium beverage packages. By including these amenities in initial booking costs, guests are able to avoid unexpected out-of-pocket costs.
3. Customized and Themed Travel
Travel is a very customizable experience, and themed cruise and travel itineraries are becoming more and more popular among travelers. For example, some ocean and river cruise lines make it so travelers are no longer bar hopping, but they’re brewery or vineyard hopping. River cruises are bringing travelers right to vineyards to sip wines while larger cruise lines such as Carnival Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Line now have partnerships with popular venues such as RedFrog Pub and Pubbelly Restaurant Group to tie the travelers’ brewery journey all together. Overall, customized itineraries connect cruisers with like-minded travelers while ensuring each day compliments their interests. Other popular themes include retracing battles of the Civil War along the Mississippi, golfing through Europe and even some family-friendly themed sailings.
4. Top Destinations – the Three I’s
Iceland, Italy and Ireland are some of 2017’s most popular destinations. After decades of being off the travel grid, Iceland is the hot new adventure destination. Iceland’s isolation from travelers was solved with easier and cheaper flights from North America. And now, travelers can explore this exotic, untouched destination and have the adventure of a lifetime. Italy is another hot destination and popular for the holidays because the country conjures up warm images of freshly baked food, morning espressos and stylish vineyard tours. Italy covers the romantic aspects of travel, as well as the adventurous aspects. And finally Ireland is enticing for 2017 since it is an enchanting land where legend and reality mingle and travelers can visit a grand historic castle, tour a brewery or distillery and make a new discovery around every corner.
5. The Suite Life with New Private Islands and Ports
With exclusive suite experiences and new private islands and ports, cruise lines are updating their product offerings. Royal Caribbean International’s new Royal Suite Class includes butler service. Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest port of call, Harvest Caye in Southern Belize, has the world’s second largest barrier reef. Carnival Corporation is now sailing to a new port, Amber Cove, in the Dominican Republic and guests can sip cocktails poolside, shop for souvenirs and rent private cabanas as this private port. MSC Cruises will begin sailing to the new Ocean Cay in late 2017, an exclusive 95-acre island in the Bahamas with an emphasis on cultural authenticity and marine conservation. MSC ships will dock overnight at the island, giving guests a chance to enjoy evening entertainment and nightlife.
6. Electronic Communication and Check-In
Walt Disney World Resort and Royal Caribbean International have combined guests’ room keys, activity passes and charging capabilities into a wristband, removing the need for guests to carry a room card. Royal Caribbean’s new SMART Check-In system makes it so travelers can take care of all necessary documentation online at home, even upload their photo and go from sidewalk to ship in 10 minutes. Look for even more travel brands to embrace technology to make it easier for guests to enjoy their vacation.
7. Buddymoons – Honeymooning with Friends
Couples asking their guests to fly into town or to an exotic destination for weddings are now inviting couples to do a little more—stay for the honeymoon. “Buddymoons” allow for couples to spend more time with family and friends while enjoying a celebratory vacation. Couples are also planning buddymoons close to home, giving out-of-town guests the opportunity to extend the wedding weekend and spend more time with the bride and groom.
8. Land and Sea Packages
Travelers are looking for pre- and post-cruise packages, making the arrival and departure ports a more prominent part of their itineraries. Instead of going directly to and from the airport, travelers are booking overnights in hotels and shore excursions, giving them more time to immerse themselves in a destination and make memories even after the cruise is over.
9. Fitness and Wellness
For the health centric traveler, there are trips dedicated to fitness and wellness. Many travelers utilize wellness apps while traveling to track their progress so they can stay on track and have a healthy vacation. MSC Cruises offers a cruise for wellness and fitness enthusiasts. The new Wellness Experience—powered by Technogym, gives travelers access to fitness equipment, a comprehensive one-on-one health assessment, a personalized fitness program and a selection of healthy food and drink options to choose from. Travelers who want to vacation, but not pack on the pounds can enjoy a wellness themed vacation.
10. Social Networking on The Go
Checking in and snapping selfies isn’t new, but sharing travel experiences with Facebook Live and Instagram Live have become increasingly popular since travelers can share their vacation with the world every step of the way. Social sharing and boasting on social media will continue to dominate the way travelers use social media while on the go—pack that back-up battery.