Bringing the experts on board

Lego

As public attitudes towards cruising continue to shift and people are increasingly open to the idea of a cruise holiday, cruise lines need to constantly innovate to entice the new-to-cruise audience. To ensure they’re able to compete with other holiday types by offering the highest quality product possible, cruise companies are turning to the experts. Across the board, we’re seeing cruise lines bringing in a whole host of top brands and experts to advise on all aspects of the cruise experience – from food and drink to sleeping, entertainment and activities.

Gone are the days where cruising was viewed as a typical package deal and, while customers want the best value for money, expectations are rising. Cruise lines are rising to the challenge by showing the customer is at the forefront of all their facilities and innovations. Most recently, we have seen a number of cruise lines team up with well-known and trusted names to ensure they go above and beyond customer requirements.

Cruise lines are rising to the challenge by showing the customer is at the forefront of all their facilities and innovations

MSC’s exclusive partnership with Lego has been set up with children in mind and proves that cruising isn’t just a pastime for the over 50s. The collaboration saw a complete overhaul of children’s play areas on its ships and tailored activities for different age groups. Global technology leader Samsung will also equip all of MSC’s next-generation ships with smartphones, tablets and high definition in-cabin televisions. What’s more, games consoles, including Wii, X-Box and Play Stations, are also being brought on board for children’s kid’s clubs and entertainment.

For some, one of the most important factors of a holiday is the dining experience – that’s why P&O has enlisted the help of top celebrity chefs and wine experts to create its ‘Food Heroes’ cruises, while Royal Caribbean has introduced a ‘Jamie’s Italian’ restaurant from award-winning chef Jamie Oliver. This next-level dining experience forms part of Royal Caribbean’s luxury Anthem of the Seas ship – where customers can enjoy dodgems, an onboard art gallery and even sky-diving.

Similarly, Crystal Cruises has partnered with celebrity chef Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa to create two speciality restaurants on Crystal Symphony – Silk Road and the Sushi Bar – bringing an extra dose of fine dining to the luxury line.

Perhaps the best recognised aspect of cruising is the onboard entertainment. Which is why, as of July 2017, you will be able to see the first Cirque du Soleil theatre at sea with MSC. The experience will take place in the purpose-built 1,000 square-metre lounge, where guests will be able to enjoy dinner or cocktails while witnessing spectacular performances. Royal Caribbean has also introduced ‘Broadway at Sea’ – showcasing the well-loved productions Cats, Grease and Mamma Mia. Last year, Norwegian recreated the legendary music venue The Cavern Club – where the likes of The Beatles, Cilla Black and Gerry and the Pacemakers graced the stage – on the newly refurbished Norwegian Epic.

As well as watching shows, Holland America offers customers the chance to get involved in their very own performances as part of their Dancing With The Stars competition. What’s more, Princess Cruises has brought the excitement and spectacle of TV’s wildly popular international singing competition The Voice to the high seas with ‘The Voice of the Ocean’. As well as the karaoke auditions, successful singers are assigned a mentor who will meet with them during the cruise to rehearse with the Princess Band and back-up singers to prepare for the best possible performance.

Most notably, Princess Cruises has acknowledged the need of comfort and ease at sea and worked alongside a certified sleep expert to introduce luxury beds. The bed was inspired by a survey which found that more than half of Americans struggle to sleep well while on holiday. This insight prompted Princess Cruises to invest in the knowledge of leading experts in science and design.

The bed was inspired by a survey which found that more than half of Americans struggle to sleep well while on holiday

Cruises can range from a family holiday, a romantic getaway or a discovery trip of a lifetime but most passengers head out seeking the same thing – some time for rest and relaxation. Health and wellness retreats are becoming increasingly popular among travellers and, when it comes to fitness, customer’s needs aren’t a guessing game. This is why we have seen the likes of TechnoGym partner with MSC to design a new on-board fitness programme, due to begin next year. The experience, which is part of an offering that passengers choose while booking, begins pre-cruise with a questionnaire that is used to determine each participant’s specific goals. Passengers are then offered consultations with a personal trainer, fitness classes, excursions such as jogging and hiking while on shore and healthy food options in the ship’s dining rooms.

Thanks to these collaborations and specialised offerings, cruise lines are standing out among competitors and distinguishing themselves as an all-round holiday for everyone. Here at Cruise Nation, we’re proud to be working with top-quality brands who are continuing to surprise the public with their exciting new features and increase the appeal of cruising. With all these new features, cruise ships should really now be viewed as floating resorts which rival any on-land experiences. We are expecting further big changes as more collaborations will be rolled out for the coming years, proving this to be an exciting time for the cruise industry.

Phil Evans is the managing director of Cruise Nation

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