Sam Ballard looks far into the future at the cruise industry of tomorrow
Envisioning what cruise will look like in years and decades to come is a tall order. But having asked some of the most recognisable people in our industry to give us their predictions, we thought we’d better take up the challenge ourselves.
Cruise gets greener
Cruise ships may be becoming more energy efficient and environmentally friendly, but much more needs to be done. The newest ships will be fuelled by LNG – the “cleanest burning fossil fuel” – but unfortunately, that’s not going to cut it for future generations. The cruise ships of tomorrow will need to run on electric power from renewable sources. We’re seeing news stories heralding the “world’s first energy-positive hotel” (Svart, in Norway, opening 2022); how long before we see the world’s first energy-positive cruise ship?
On board, water filtration systems need to be installed to eliminate plastic bottles for good. It’s easy to say that changes will happen in the future because of “new technology” but there is plenty that could be done now. Plus, there are hearts and minds to win. Recycling may be done on board a ship but too often ports either don’t have the facilities to deal with it or don’t have that kind of culture. Cruise lines need to use their influence to drive change.
Become more local
Anyone who has cruised the Caribbean will know the feeling of stepping out into an identikit market or cruise terminal where every concession is selling the same tourist tat – often imported. It’s doubtful that much of this cash goes back into a destination. There is nothing worse than having locals standing behind a barbed wire fence being treated as outsiders in their own country – especially if the port/cruise line gets to sell its wares inside said fence. Change needs to include working with local companies for tours and making sure money stays in a destination. It’s win-win, with tourists getting an authentic experience.
Cruise lines will take greater control of the land offering as pre- and post-cruise becomes an even bigger thing. Some cruise lines are doing this already (such as Azamara, Holland America Line and Princess), by owning lodges in Alaska or selling another operator’s African cruises, for example. But it will come down to offering a more complete experience in a destination, which will sometimes mean spending nights on land.
Destination management also needs work. Having been on a shore excursion in Santorini this summer while four other ships were in, it’s clear that something needs to be done. Cruise lines must work with local destinations and each other to ensure that destinations don’t become overrun with tourists, giving our industry a bad name.