The cruise experts have compiled comments from more than 1.3 million cruise passengers and the 750 travel agencies for an insider’s take on cruise trends on the horizon for 2020.
Here are the Top 3 predictions for the most noteworthy trends of 2020:
1. Expansion and Innovation: Many of the cruise lines are employing a “bigger is better” philosophy, building ships that have amenities that rival their on-land counterparts’ finest amenities. That means an unparalleled at-sea vacation experience.
For example, Royal Caribbean debuted the world’s largest cruise ship, the 228,081-ton Symphony of the Seas in 2018. It features robot bartenders, a water slide with a 92-foot drop, and a nine-story zipline. But they’re not stopping there. They’ve begun construction on a new ship, scheduled for a maiden voyage in 2021. This ship, the Wonder of the Seas, is Royal Caribbean’s fifth Oasis Class ship and will set sail from Shanghai, China. It will feature the line’s seven-neighborhood concept and promises to offer the ultimate in features and amenities.
2. Expedition Ships Scale Down: There’s a new generation of yacht-like expedition ships hitting the water, and this cruising niche is flourishing. Why? Seasoned travelers are looking for unique, intimate destinations and, to get there, cruise ships must be able to navigate smaller bodies of water.
Crystal Cruises leads the way in this category, offering big things in small packages. The all-suite Crystal Esprit visits iconic yachting destinations from the Dalmatian Coast and Greek Isles to the Arabian Peninsula and Seychelles and features a staff of 90 catering to just 62 guests in 31 butler-serviced suites. Celebrity Cruises also has a ship in this race, so to speak. The Celebrity Xpedition is an expedition-based ship that sails the Galapagos Islands. With a passenger capacity of just 100 passengers, her compact size allows guests to view the many islands and natural wonders of the Galapagos in an up-close and personal way.
Other lines that offer this small-ship expedition experience include: PONANT, Emerald Waterways and Scenic.
3. Great Lakes Cruising: There’s been a surge in interest for domestic cruising, as evidenced by the popularity of U.S. river cruise lines such as American Queen Steamboat Company and Blount Small Ship Adventures, and the Great Lakes are another domestic cruising destination that’s gaining momentum.
The Great Lakes are a series of freshwater lakes that span the U.S.-Canada border, which makes them an easily accessible cruising destination from both countries. A number of U.S. cities can serve as ports, including Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit, among others. These areas are seeing a rebirth that’s well-worth exploring. Detroit, for instance, has a gorgeous waterfront and pier area, a lovely art center that’s experienced a renaissance, and beautiful churches and architecturally-significant buildings.
Cruises in the region offer a window into history: today’s ships trace the same routes visited by historical figures such as Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and former United States President William Howard Taft.
Plus, this compact region offers rich culture. For example, there are 93 languages spoken in Toronto alone! And because the Great Lakes region only accommodates small ships, a stop in port means that only a few hundred people disembark, so their visit doesn’t overwhelm the city or compromise the nature of its culture.