February is always an exciting month for the cruise industry, as a myriad of lines begin to reveal what they’ve got in store for the year to come. So what’s set to shape the face of contemporary cruising this year? We’ve got the low-down on five key trends and what they mean for cruising as a whole.
Australia set to dominate
The Australian cruise industry is currently experiencing unprecedented growth as an increasing number of Aussies and international tourists continue to realise the benefits of hitting the high seas. 2014 saw a record number of ships based in Australia, with major lines such as P&O, Princess, Carnival, Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises all up keeping a Down Under presence. The trend is set to continue well into the second half of this decade, with experts predicting that by 2016 a huge 1 million Australian’s will embark on cruises in Australian waters. Gavin Smith, Cruise Lines International Association Australasia chairman maintains that the Australian cruise industry is “punching well above its weight,” despite the fact that it is “still a relatively young cruise market.”
“The number of Australians taking a cruise has grown by an enviable average 20 per cent a year for the last 11 years as a growing number of travellers discover the many joys of cruising,” he explains. “That’s a remarkable achievement, particularly when you consider we’re now leading the world in market penetration.”
Supercharged internet connections
Staying connected at-sea is one of the biggest issues faced by passengers across the globe. While in the past guests have had to resort to overpriced pre-paid Wi-Fi vouchers and inconvenient internet cafes 2015 will see the World Wide Web become faster, cheaper and more accessible than ever. This is already being seen on ships such as Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas which offers passengers lighting fast satellite powered internet at an affordable price. This will no doubt force other lines to up their game and start rolling out reliable at-sea connections that don’t break the bank.
While we said farewell to cheesy cabaret shows years and years ago there has always been room for improvement. This year is the time when lines have finally gone all out when it comes to offering passengers world class entertainment. In 2015 Carnival not only treated passengers to big-name musical acts but it also gave them the chance to meet the cast afterwards. This has paved the way for other lines to follow suit and roll out entertainment experiences that well and truly deliver on the wow factor. In October Norwegian Epic will launch “Priscilla: Queen of the Desert” while Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas will host smash hit “We Will Rock You” when she sets sail from Southampton in April. Catch all the action by heading to the Cruise 1st website and securing your place on-board a Royal Caribbean or Norwegian itinerary today!
A focus on food
In 2015 at-sea cuisine is set to undergo a serious transformation. This year there will be an unwavering focus on quality, choice and unique ‘experiences’ that give dining a whole new meaning. Specialty restaurants have emerged as the next big thing in modern cruising and in 2015 the concept is even more impressive.
Celebrity chef endorsements are without a doubt a must have addition to any leading line, with P&O signing up the ever lovely Mary Berry as an official cooking school host as well as Michelin-star celebrity chef Atul Kochhar. When P&O’s Pacific Pearl hits the seas in May the traditional buffet style set up will also be shunned in favour of a more refined and elegant eating hall called The Pantry. Passengers will be able to choose from eight outlets including a curry house, delicatessen and fish & chip shop. According to Sture Myrmell, Carnival Australia’s vice-president of hotel operations “people’s preferences are changing” and Carnival has seized the opportunity to try something “a little bit different.” He maintains that “We have seen the standard of food increasing everywhere around Australia. Australians are used to multicultural cuisines and so we wanted to create more choice and improve the quality and presentation.”
Sights set on Cuba
Cuba is set to emerge as 2015’s hottest up-and-coming cruise destination! Perched just off the Florida coastline, the island country is world’s away from the over commercialisation of America. With Obama currently in talks about lifting the long-standing travel ban we predict that the world’s leading lines already have their sights set on rolling out Cuban itineraries ASAP. Edie Bornstein, President and COO of Crystal Cruises certainly sees Cuba as a lucrative destination, explaining that “Our guests have gone everywhere and done everything, so they want to experience new destinations as they open up.”
Do you love what’s in store for 2015 or would you prefer to see some different new developments on the horizon? Let us know what you think!
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credit: David Spinks, Howard Ignatius