Onsite: Industry Leaders Discuss the Baby Boomer Cruise Market

MIAMI-Not all baby boomers are alike was the overlying theme of a session devoted to the baby-boomer population on Wednesday morning at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami. "Boomers can't be uniformly defined," said Alice Norsworthy, senior vice president of marketing for Royal Caribbean International. So she offered five different types: status seekers, traditionalists, blue-collar skeptics, activists and achievers. Boomers control 75 percent of the wealth so "we need to stay fresh in marketing to them," said Jan Swartz, senior vice president of sales and customer service for Princess Cruises. Swartz observed that most baby boomers are more interested in acquiring experiences than goods, but in a familiar setting, which a cruise vacation provides. She referred to it as safety-net travel. All agreed that today's baby boomers are more active and tend to live a healthier lifestyle. "They are searching for the fountain of youth," said Roberta Schwartz, an assistant professor at the Hospitality College of Johnson & Wales University in Miami. "Boomers redefine old age." A surge in multi-generational travel is also attributed to baby boomers. "Lines have gone to a great extent to cater to families," said Michelle Fee, CEO of Cruise Planners. Walter Littlejohn, president of New Jersey-based Chartwell Vacations, noted a boomer push into luxury that is creating a boom for the luxury lines and spurring development. "Boomers have always been cruising, but are spending more money now," Littlejohn said.

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