Where next for cruise? Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean, on cruise in 2020

Where next for cruise? Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean, on cruise in 2020

Ben Bouldin

Vice president of sales EMEA, Royal Caribbean

Clia’s most recent research points to a tremendously exciting 2020 and I for one can’t wait to see what’s in store for our industry. With 32 million cruise passengers expected to set sail next year and $22 billion being invested in energy effciency, clean emissions and working with local destinations, it’s no wonder one of Clia’s key 2020 industry trends is “Generation Cruise Positive”. Results show that more than 66 per cent of Generation X and 71 per cent of millennials now have a more positive attitude towards cruising compared with two years ago. It’s a testament to the hard work invested across our industry – in sustainability, product development and marketing – that we’re seeing this positive shift in attitudes, regardless of generation. And, it’s clear to me, thanks to the dynamic mindset and competitive resilience I can see across the current industry, that we will continue to see this percentage rise.

It’s undeniable that our industry will continue to awaken the much coveted “new to cruise” guest to the potential of a cruise holiday; never before has there been so much premium hardware within such easy reach of UK and Irish guests. Next summer, Allure of the Seas – one of the world’s biggest and most innovative ships – will be arriving in Barcelona following a $165 million makeover, along with Carnival’s Radiance and MSC’s Virtuosa. And here in Southampton, we will welcome Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking Quantum-class vessel; Iona, P&O’s next-generation ship; the brand new Enchanted Princess; and Saga’s Spirit of Adventure, to name just a few.

There’s an exciting abundance of brand new ships on the horizon. From our RCCL family alone, there’s Celebrity Apex, Silversea’s Silver Moon and Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas – and that’s just for 2020. There are a further 16 cruise ships scheduled to debut in 2020, resulting in a total of 278 ocean ships in operation by this time next year – not to mention new cruise lines, such as Virgin Voyages, breaking into the industry, which shows the promise and wealth of opportunity our industry holds.

Developments on land

It’s not just developments at sea that are reshaping the future of the cruise holiday; new land-based projects are transforming the cruise holiday offering as we know it. We have seen tremendous success with the 2019 launch of Perfect Day at CocoCay, our exclusive island in the Bahamas, and we are moving full steam ahead with the development of our second Perfect Day concept in Lelepa, Vanuatu, which is set to launch in the Pacific in 2022. Further new and exclusive cruise destinations include the recently opened Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve and the upcoming Bimini Beach Club, owned by Virgin Voyages. These continuous new and exclusive offerings, only accessible by cruise ship, are going to have vast appeal to guests who are seeking out unique holiday experiences.

key development we’re seeing as we look to the future of cruise is the growing need for brands to clearly identify their target market and hone in on understanding and appealing to this audience. Cruise lines need to be crystal clear on who they are targeting and ensure that their marketing actions reflect their ambition. Virgin Voyages, for example, has set its sights on attracting couples with its adults only offering. At Royal Caribbean, we are laser focused on families, in all their various guises. Our strong appetite to attract families to our brand is demonstrated in our newly launched wave offering, which includes an ambitious TV plan, encompassing our new “One Family. One Holiday” ad campaign and sponsorship of ITV’s latest, prime-time family entertainment programme. My challenge to the wider industry would be to strategically identify their target guest and then ensure all channels are aligned accordingly. It’s in doing this that brands will be able to maintain their hold in an ever evolving and expanding marketplace.

Working with the trade

Lastly, but arguably most importantly for the future cruise industry, is the growing need for a mutual, supporting relationship between us and our trade partners. Last year particularly underlined the importance of this. I’m immensely proud of the relationship our team at Royal Caribbean has fostered with our trade partners over many years, and I am incredibly excited for the continuous growth and evolution of our award-winning Club Rewards programme.

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In this issue, we look ahead to the next 12 months, bringing you expert opinion from travel industry leaders as we ask them, where next for cruise? Andy Harmer of Clia, Ben Bouldin of Royal Caribbean International, Lynn Narraway of Seabourn, Craig Upshall of Aurora Expeditions and Neil Barclay of Viking Cruises all share their views, in this special section of the magazine. Click here to read the magazine in full.


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