Luxury Cruise Market Growing… And Growing More Luxurious
The luxury market niche could see a 53% spike in pax capacity from 2015 to 2018, according to the 2015-2016 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
The growth will be driven by new ships for Regent Seven Seas and Seabourn Cruise Line, and if Viking Cruises chooses to position itself in the market segment. Added to the luxury expansion is the bombshell from Crystal Cruises announced early this week.
Broadly defined, today’s luxury niche consists of 26 ships, with all but 2 vessels sailing for North American based brands. By 2018, the segment could have 32 ships, increasing the passenger capacity from approximately 336,000 to 515,000.
The largest single luxury brand in terms of passenger capacity by 2018 will be Seabourn with an estimated annual capacity of 84,130 pax.
Regent Seven Seas will be nearly as large with an estimated annual pax capacity of 84,150 unless it divests itself of the smaller 490 passenger Navigator.
Having added ships in 2013 and 2014, Silversea has not announced any further additions, and its capacity will remain relatively unchanged from today at an estimated 79,220 pax per year.
Currently carrying approximately 60,000 passengers a year, Crystal’s new owners have announced intentions to build 3 1,000 pax ships, which will bump the brand to the top of the market segment.
Viking could also become a major player, pending its branding and market position intentions, which are not clearly defined at this point.
The flood of luxurious new ships comes at a time when luxury cruises appear to be more sought-after than ever, especially to affluent empty-nesters and retirees. According to MMGY’s 2015 Portrait of American Travelers, 1/2 of affluent travellers are interested in taking a cruise vacation during the next 2 yr. – the highest percentage in 25 years of the survey.
Beyond the standard luxury trappings like butler service, flowing champagne, high thread count sheets and designer toiletries, few details have been announced about the new ships to be built. It is known that the Regent Seven Seas Explorer will feature a suite that goes for $5,000 per person per night and comes complete with its own sauna, steam room and heated lounge chairs.
The new Crystal ships will feature suites of at least 400 sq ft, making them among the most spacious at sea. And the ships will also offer amenities like submarines and helicopter landing pads.