Six industry insiders share their predictions for cruise in 2017 – starting with Clia’s Andy Harmer — as part of our Where next for cruise? special
At the Clia Conference in May 2016 we used the theme of ‘revolution’ to explain the fast pace of change that is happening within the cruise industry. With each new ship and with each passing year we have witnessed product enhancements that have, without doubt, set the standard in the whole travel industry.
Where else in the holiday space can you wake up and dine on a balcony overlooking Stockholm or Barcelona or Dubrovnik, choose from literally thousands of different shore experiences, watch an ice-dance show, eat in a Marco Pierre White restaurant, relax by the pool, have
a spa treatment, learn a local language, take a cookery class with James Martin, skydive, take part in a singing contest, or simply relax and unwind with family and friends.
We often take time to compare the holiday offerings of the cruise lines, but rarely do we compare with our true competitor – the experiences available in a hotel or resort.
On every possible measure, cruise wins! Whether that measure is the multiple destinations we visit in one holiday while unpacking only once; the astonishing good service we enjoy; the choice of experiences available; or simply the incredible value for money we offer with all of these ‘inclusive’ holiday choices.
Many of the changes we are witnessing in our industry come down to ‘choice’ – there is a steady increase in the number of cruise ships each year and huge investment in refurbishment programmes. Our ships contain more onboard options than ever before – in dining, wellness, entertainment, accommodation and activities – while the use of new technologies and connectivity further increase the choices that guests have for their holiday.
In addition, the number of cruise ports being offered also grows to allow the cruise guest to see a range of ports never offered before. Twenty, even ten years ago many cruise lines offered the Med in the summer and the Caribbean in the winter; and while these destinations remain incredibly important to our guests, they also now have the choice of new destinations, new ports and new onshore experiences. Add in the chance to undertake voluntourism, or stay overnight or longer in port or more in-depth land programmes and you can see where that 2016 revolution is heading: choice.
That revolution has been about investment and innovation and meeting the ever-changing needs of our guests. What it has created is a range of cruise holiday choices that can now attract all customer types, from singles and couples to families and multi-generational families, with guests of all ages.
It means that there really is a cruise holiday for everyone – we are no longer constrained to just one ‘type’ of customer, and we can now – probably for the first time – really compete with all other holiday choices. And that is an incredibly powerful message for 2017 as the industry continues to evolve and develop.