An estimated 30 million travellers are expected to go on cruise this year, which is a 6.2 per cent increase over 2018 on 272-CLIA-member cruise ships projected to be in operation by June 2019. In addition, 18 new ships will join the fleets of CLIA cruise lines this year.
TTN spoke with cruise guru Ashok Kumar, who with over 30 years of experience in travel industry, is also the managing director of Cruise Master, the only B2B cruise specialist in the Middle East. “Cruise lines are introducing innovative technology, improved onboard entertainment venues and enhanced experiences this year.
“Princess Cruises, for instance, has launched the MedallionClass experience onboard Regal Princess sailing on 11-nights North Europe cruises. It is a wearable device powered by a first-of-its-kind interactive technology platform within the One Cruise Experience Access Network (Ocean). The Ocean Medallion enables a new level of personalisation that delivers an enhanced guest experience previously not available in the global vacation industry.”
This innovation is in line with the findings of the “2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook” report, which states that one of the key trends this year is cruise lines adopting wearable technology for cruise travellers to provide a highly personalised travel experience.
This year, travellers are seeking ways to rejuvenate and relax more than ever before, says Kumar. “Cunard Line has launched a new holistic spa concept called Mareel, which is co-created by Cunard and wellness trailblazer Canyon Ranch. Mareel Wellness & Beauty launched exclusively on board the newly refurbished Queen Elizabeth late last year, and this will be closely followed by Queen Victoria. It will also be available on-board Cunard’s flagship liner Queen Mary 2 from November 2020.”
Brand new facilities offered by Mareel on board Queen Elizabeth include a new couples suite for seaweed bathing rituals; a meditation room with acoustic resonance loungers; a reconfigured multifunctional fitness centre and studio space; and new sound therapy facilities in every treatment room.
Meanwhile, MSC Cruises has revealed details of the two new Cirque du Soleil at Sea shows that are being created specifically for MSC Bellissima. The breath-taking shows will be called SYMA – Sail beyond Imagination and VARÉLIA – Love in Full Color and will be available exclusively to MSC Bellissima guests, following her launch in March 2019.
“Celebrity Edge, the latest ship of Celebrity Cruises has the Magic Carpet, an extraordinary venue that changes mood, function and even its location. This incredible engineering feat is the world’s first cantilevered, floating platform that reaches heights of 13 stories above sea level, so you can soar over the open ocean. With breathtaking views, a full bar and space for live music performances, it truly is a destination in itself,” says Kumar.
Norwegian Encore will no doubt be worth the wait when it debuts later this year with the largest race track at sea. It's over 1,100 feet of pedal-to-the-metal action - longer than three football fields, and features four high-speed curves that extend 13 feet over the side of the ship, meaning you'll be racing over the open water below. Plus, covering the entire back of the ship will be the largest open-air laser tag at sea with an augmented reality twist. If this was not enough, Galaxy Pavilion, a 10,000-square-foot augmented reality complex will up the interactive gaming experience on board the Norwegian Encore. ”
key trends in cruising
According to the 2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report released by CLIA, the use of social media, in particular, Instagram, will be a key activity for passengers on board cruise ships and from land.
Cruise passengers will want to remain connected to the grid with smooth online connectivity whether to share Instagram posts from their travels or to work, as ‘bleisure’ travel continues to be on the rise. Straying far from the notion of device-free travel, many modern travellers or “digital nomads” are opting for trips where they can work remotely which cuts down on time off and lost wages. With wi-fi, desks and work-friendly cafes, travellers can keep up with work while enjoying a cruise vacation.
On the other end of the spectrum, stressed out from fast-paced lives, some travellers will be seeking ways to check out from daily responsibilities and rejuvenate more than ever before. Cruise lines are responding by offering total wellness in the form of restorative spa experiences, onboard oxygen bars, healthy menu choices for a wide variety of diets, and the latest in fitness innovations.
Cruise lines have adopted wearable technology for cruise travellers–including keychains, necklaces, bracelets, and more–in order to provide a highly personalised travel experience while on and off the ship.
Generation Z is set to become the largest consumer generation in the next two years—outpacing even Millennials. Like the generation before, this age bracket prefers authentic experiences over material items and has an even greater wanderlust. The appeal of multiple destinations and unique experiences, such as music festivals at sea, is helping attract this new generation of cruisers.
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