PHOTO: The Caribbean Princess cruise ship. (photo via Flickr/Prayitno Photography)
It’s cruise season, but what are travel agents seeing as trends?
Samarah Meil has been seeing an increase in requests for Alaska. “I use to feel this destination was more geared towards an older crowd, but lately we have been sending more families and multi-generational groups,” said Meil, of the Amarillo Travel Network.
According to the Virtuoso Luxe Report, these are the most popular cruise itineraries predicted for 2017: Mediterranean; Alaska; European river; Caribbean; and the Greek Isles.
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Europe seems to be on top of the list due to the Euro going down, according to Rae Ann Wright of Carefree Vacations. “Azamara Club Cruises is really picking up new business due to its all-inclusive pricing and longer stays with more overnights than other ships.”
Justin Wolfson said that his clients are asking for more high tech and newer ships, such as ships that have a skydiving simulator or surfing simulator, even a ropes course.
“Everyone wants the newest ships out there,” said Wolfson an independent travel consultant with Chubit Travel. “Another thing trending is drinking packages. More and more cruise lines are including the packages as a perk which catches a lot of clients, as they prefer to go with one of those lines rather than a line that does not have the drinking packages.”
Speaking of technology, one of the biggest trends in cruising is the use of technology to enhance the cruise experience, according to Chris Caulfield, CruiseOne Franchise Owner and Vacation Specialist.
“It was not too long ago when having internet service aboard a ship was unheard of, and maybe preferred by some,” he said.
Caulfield explained that cruise lines are investing in technology that will change the way we cruise. “It began with shipboard apps that have many features including daily activities and the ability to text fellow passengers,” he said.
“The next phase can be seen with the recent announcements from Carnival Corporation about their Ocean Medallion and the feature-packed MSC for Me technology that will be implemented on the brand new MSC cruises ships, where almost every aspect of a cruise will be touched by technology. I believe we are entering an exciting new chapter in cruising.”
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One new trend that Greg Geronemus, the co-CEO of smarTours, is seeing interest in exotic river cruises.
“River cruising is becoming an increasingly developed and mature market, so travelers are now looking for more exotic river cruise sailings/itineraries,” he said. “With the river cruise boom over the last decade, there are a lot of travelers who have already done the Blue Danube and the Rhine, and now they're looking to push the envelope a bit.”
This is translating into more and more interest in cruises to places like Russia, less mainstream parts of the Danube River like the Southern Danube, China’s Yangtze River and of course the Galapagos.
Wright also sees a continued growth of river cruisers too. “It really is picking up steam,” said Wright. “The baby boomers are wanting something else to do, due to the bucket list getting checked off.”