CruiseCruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook has identified the cruise industry’s overall global economic impact as well as the trends impacting cruise travel in 2018.

Cruise Trends 2018: Ice is nice, rivers are all the rage

Cold climates are attracting cruisers as well as penguins
Cold climates are attracting cruisers as well as penguins Photo Credit: Nick Dale/Gerty Images

Current data shows 27.2 million passengers are expected to set sail in 2018, a significant increase on an estimated 25.8 million passengers who cruised in 2017. CLIA Cruise Lines are scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships this year.

As part of the 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, CLIA has forecasted the top nine cruise travel trends for the coming year. The highlights:

All Budgets Will Cruise 
The 2018 Cruise Travel Report found that almost all income brackets are cruising. In fact, a third (33%) of the cruisers surveyed who have taken a cruise within the past three years, have a household income less than US$80,000. While the data shows cruising does skew a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of holidays, the report indicates almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.

Transformational Cruise Travel 
The next evolution of experiential travel sees travellers seeking “transformational” experiences. From cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures, those returning from a cruise will have a shift in perspective and a sense of accomplishment. Thrill-seekers can fill bucket lists with chances to swim with sharks in South Africa, ride a Harley Davidson in Alaska or mingle among penguins in the Arctic.

Sustainability at Sea 
There will be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism. Travellers can look forward to participating in sustainable practices both onboard and off from recycling and waste management to voluntourism initiatives that focus on creating a positive environmental and social impact.

Millennials Take to the River 
River and small ship cruising continues to gain traction among travellers, specifically the millennial set. With ever-expanding itineraries and destination experiences that reach far beyond walking and coach tours and endless options for the perfect “Instagram moment,” the younger generation is embracing river cruising.

Skip-Gen Cruising Multigenerational cruising is projected to increase in popularity, as forecasted by CLIA’s Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook in April 2017. But there’s a twist: “skip-generation” trips, with grandparents and grandchildren travelling together without their parents, are predicted to be highly popular in 2018 and beyond.

Travellers Warm to Chilly Destinations 
The year is projected to see a rise in popularity of colder climate destinations including the Baltics, Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica. With an array of unique excursion options, from penguin watching to ice fishing, these winter destinations are drawing in both new and repeat cruisers.

Healthy Doses 
Travellers are seeking health and wellness trips more than ever and the cruise industry is responding with services and experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruisers can participate in plenty of onboard health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programmes, stress management, and spa services. There are even entire cruise itineraries dedicated to weight management and healthy living including Weight Watchers cruises and menus for a variety of dietary needs from diabetic-friendly to plant-based.

Smart Travel Technology 
It is predicted that there will be a rise in traveller-friendly onboard technologies. Several cruise lines are already introducing wearable technology for cruise passengers that provide a personalised, seamless and fuss-free experience while onboard. Ranging from keychains to bracelets to necklaces and more, wearable technology on cruises interacts with sensors on the ship in order to do everything from turning the lights on as cruisers approach their cabin to acting as a security agent.

Tapping Travel Agents 
Travel agents continue to see a steady demand from consumers in planning and executing holidays. Some of the largest factors behind continued popularity of travel agents? Ease of planning, valued expertise, and affordability. 

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