In this section, several leading industry figures talk about what the future holds in 2018 and beyond, looking at changes in innovation, legislation, luxury and family cruise, the rise of river, meeting the needs of millennials and the latest destination hotspots. We begin with Andy Harmer, SVP membership & director, Clia UK & Ireland, with an overview of the industry as a whole.
Whether your clients are considering cruise for the first time or are regulars on the high seas, now is the time to highlight your expertise by broadening their horizons with a new type of holiday. With so many amazing new ships launching, incredible destinations and excursions being added, 2018 really is the time to cruise.
There really is a cruise for everyone, and this includes the big growth sectors of family cruise, river cruise and expedition cruise – all of which benefit from new ships in 2018 and beyond; and all of which are segments that are getting lots of media coverage, too. Of course these segments grow alongside a growth in all cruise holidays – but their presence allows us to talk to customers who we may not have spoken to about cruising in the past.
For the family market, Carnival Horizon will feature a Dr Seuss-themed water park, as well as an Imax cinema screen, the SkyRide and the LED centrepiece in the atrium. Royal Caribbean International’s Symphony of the Seas will be the largest cruise ship ever built when it launches and will feature a 10-story slide, robot bartenders and an ice skating rink.
Norwegian Cruise Line’s first cruise ship built for Alaskan cruises, Norwegian Bliss, which will sail seasonally in Alaska and the Caribbean beginning in summer 2018. The Observation Lounge will be the perfect spot to watch bald eagles soar over glaciers or dolphins splashing in the Caribbean.
MSC Seaview will pioneer a new beach condo concept, bringing guests and the sea closer with the design feature of the 360-degree promenade running around the entire ship. Similarly, Celebrity Edge will bring the outside in with their Infinite Veranda staterooms, turning the room into a seamless space from the door all the way to the water’s edge taking guests closer to the sea. The ship will also feature a rooftop garden with plenty of greenery and space for guests to enjoy yoga during the day and films in the evening.
Additionally, Seabourn Ovation’s Retreat will provide the ultimate tranquil setting with 15 private cabanas designed as individual luxury living rooms that each feature a large HD flat screen television and circle the central whirlpool which guests can enjoy. Ponant will also introduce Blue Eye, the underwater passenger lounge which will allow guests to view the fantastic underwater world in complete luxury as they speed through the ocean.
With river cruise more popular than ever there’s the launch of AmaWaterways’ AmaLea, sailing on the Rhine and the Danube; Avalon Saigon sailing on the Mekong from autumn next year; CroisiEurope’s four new state-of-the-art ships offering itineraries throughout Europe and Africa and U by Uniworld’s brand new offering for millennials keen to try out cruise for the first time.
As well as all of the exciting new ship launches that will be pushing the boundaries in terms of innovation, creativity and design, travel agents should also be highlighting the incredible experiences being added to existing sailings in 2018. New ports of call into the heart of Cuba with Azamara, sailings that take in world sporting events with Amadeus and brand new Star Wars-themed sailings with Disney are just a taster of the 2018 highlights.
As always, Clia will be offering weekly online tutorials, training modules, events and resources up and down the country to provide agents with all of the latest information. My advice to all of you would be to update your knowledge and expertise ahead of peaks to ensure that you are equipped to make the most of the busy period ahead. In the meantime, I wish you all a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year!