CLIA’s Top Cruise Travel Trends for 2018

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

As part of its 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, CLIA has forecasted the top nine cruise travel trends for the coming year. After a very strong year in 2017, here’s where the global cruise organization see things going.

All Budgets Will Cruise – CLIA’s research has 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 $80K. While the data shows cruising skews a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of vacations, the report indicates almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.

Transformational Travel – CLIA says the next evolution of experiential travel sees travellers taking a step further and 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. Some upcoming cruise itineraries include the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine, guided tours through small villages and even visits inside private homes.

Sustainability at Sea – In the coming year there with be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism. CLIA says travellers can look forward to participating in sustainable practices both onboard and off from recycling and waste management to popular voluntourism initiatives that focus on creating a positive environmental and social impact at destinations.

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 coming year is projected to see an increase 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 wonder destinations are drawing in both new and repeat cruise travellers.

Healthy Doses – Travellers are seeking health and wellness trips more than ever before and CLIA says the cruise industry is responding with services and experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travellers can participate in onboard health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programs, 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 – CLIA says the coming year will bring a rise in traveller-friendly onboard technologies. Several cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that provide a personalized and seamless 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 a cruiser approaches 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 vacations. Some of the largest factors behind continued popularity of travel agents? Ease of planning, valued expertise, and affordability.

Bruce Parkinson

Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief

An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.




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