Where next for cruise? Phil Evans shares his predictions
Over the coming weeks, seven industry experts will share their predictions for the coming year as part of our ‘Where next for cruise?’ series to mark the launch of Cruise Adviser’s Preview guide 2016. This week it is Phil Evans, Cruise Nation managing director.
It’s been a fascinating year for the industry with new ships, new onboard features and a real sense that cruise is entering the mainstream holiday market. Cruise Nation has seen record sales as we built upon the change in cruise perceptions with more and more people taking a cruise for the first time. As an agency we’ve been looking forward and analysing trends for 2016 that will have the biggest impact on growth in the industry.
I think 2016 will be even bigger for the cruise industry with more consumers realising that cruising can cater to a number of traveller’s preferences ranging from luxurious, relaxing escapes to active adventures. With the development of their newest ships, cruise lines are stamping their personality on board by providing skydiving simulators and robotic bars.
There are several game changers in the industry that are helping cruising become a serious proposition for a wider range of travellers including ‘voluntourism’ with Carnival launching Fathom and Holland America Line’s ‘Cruise with Purpose’ excursions. We’ve also seen more recognisable brands on board, innovative ship designs and the fact that luxury brands are embracing cruising. The competition is no longer just between lines but the travel industry as a whole and this wider view of the industry is helping to push cruising to the next level.
There will significant growth opportunities within the Chinese market, especially with new ships like the Ovation of the Seas from Royal Caribbean being based there.
We’ll also continue to see cruise lines forging relationships with brands for their entertainment, dining and family facilities such as MSC and Lego and Carnival and Dr Seuss. MSC has also just signed a deal with Cirque Du Soleil to create bespoke shows on board their fleet.
We’ll see destinations follow examples set by purpose built cruise ports such as Icy Strait Point in Alaska which offers excellent facilities for cruise guests and incredible excursion opportunities. I also think there will be an increase in cruise deals and promotions such as onboard spend, cabin upgrades and all-inclusive trips. Wi-fi will become a priority with cruise lines recognising the importance of guests being able to champion the onboard experience via social media. In terms of destinations, Scandinavian cruises will become more popular with new budget airlines opening up the region to more affordable fly-cruise packages.
Cruise Nation will move into our new offices in 2016, which will enable us to grow the team significantly. There will also be a retail space where customers can come in and book cruise holidays in person as well as over the phone and online.
The cherry on top will be our new TV studio where we’ll be presenting live broadcasts via social media and filming videos about cruising to provide resources for our customers.