The changing perception of cruising. By Phil Evans, MD of Cruise Nation
Gone are the days when cruising was just a pastime for the over 50s. Perceptions are changing with a new generation of travellers opening their eyes to the exciting destinations and affordable packages cruising can offer. Recently, the target audience of the cruise market has diversified thanks to clever innovation from cruise operators and cruise lines who have had to keep on their toes in the last decade to stay relevant to a new breed of traveller, writes Phil Evans, MD of Cruise Nation.
Catering to and anticipating the needs of the customer is important in any business but is especially true in how cruise lines have become so dynamic. Keeping abreast of the demands of the modern traveller has certainly been a factor in the boom the industry is experiencing. Cruises can now offer various types of holiday packages that appeal to a wide spectrum of clientele, from young couples and families to singles and groups of friends.
At the forefront of this modernisation are the cruise lines themselves who are adding fresh and exciting features to their ships as they steer away from outdated perceptions of a cruise holiday. Cruise lines, which might once have conjured up images of cheesy cabaret shows and karaoke, have come a long way. Plus, they are determined to keep their reputation of providing great entertainment to a changing audience – especially with increasing competition between each company. Nowadays it is not uncommon to see cruise ships fitted with zip wires, rock-climbing walls, theme park-like attractions and even full-sized sports courts. Again, it’s the diversity of attractions that is one of the biggest pulls of a cruise break. The modern customer can’t be stereotyped like in the past so liners and operators have to provide a little bit of something for everyone.
Norwegian Cruise Line has stepped-up its entertainment offering, building multiple bars and lounges including a reproduction of Liverpool’s famous Cavern Club on the Norwegian Epic where guests can enjoy the sounds of The Beatles. Renowned Broadway shows such as Chicago, Saturday Night Fever and Hairspray have been brought to the seas by Royal Caribbean and Cunard has long-standing partnerships with the National Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Academy of Art and Juilliard School of Performing Arts. With the strengthening of the holiday offering provided by the cruise industry, it’s only natural that entertainment and facilities have followed suit and quality music, shows and performances are now available in abundance with something to appeal to all ages.
Thanks to these shifting perceptions we are seeing a growth in the number of new-to-cruise bookings being made. This shift is rooted in the flexibility cruises are now offering
Princess Cruises’ sixth annual relaxation report recently found that two-thirds of American travellers agree that taking a cruise would be the best way to experience life and relaxation all in one holiday. With the stresses of modern life becoming more and more prominent, consumers are looking for holidays that are guaranteed not to disappoint and will relieve them of everyday hassles. Cruising is gaining a reputation for providing the all-round holiday experience so, as well as the various destinations you can visit and entertainment available, they’re also perfect for a relaxing break. This is reflected in the attention lines have made to the spa and wellness facilities in their ships. On newer ships, there are specially designed cabins to create a tranquil atmosphere with easy-access to spa facilities to really supplement the wellness theme.
Thanks to these shifting perceptions we are seeing a growth in the number of new-to-cruise bookings being made. I believe this shift is rooted in the flexibility cruises are now offering. Whether it’s a mini package to Europe with flights and city break included, destination-focused trips with fascinating onshore excursions or expedition cruises in stunning locations such as the Polar Regions and the exotic Galapagos Islands, pictured above, there has never been a better time to try cruising.
Cruising has the potential to challenge flying or inter-railing as a method of exploring the world – while also providing great value for money. This is where cruise-operators come into their own. At Cruise Nation, we supplement the cruise-liners’ great value deals by adding in additional complimentary stays and flights for our customers as part of our ‘Smart Packages’ – allowing guests to experience more of the food, culture and atmosphere of the destination. Even the demands of the traditional family holiday are catered to with multi-cabin stays offering fantastic value. What’s nice about a cruise is the fact that it’s possible to see so many interesting and diverse cultures all in one trip.
Cruises can fit into a wide range of categories – a family holiday, a romantic couple’s retreat, a round-the-world trip of a lifetime, or even a quick budget break. Cruises are still a great holiday option for the older traveller but innovation has really freshened up the image of the industry and there’s a lot of optimism among liners and tour operators. Traditional perceptions and stereotypes of cruise are changing and the market is now waking up to the needs of the modern traveller, which is helping to broaden the appeal of cruises. Many of my friends have turned their noses up at the idea of cruising in the past but are increasingly coming round to the idea. The positive word-of-mouth surrounding cruises and excellent developments from cruise lines make the industry an exciting place to be right now!
Phil Evans is MD of Cruise Nation