The Changing Tides Of Cruise Clients

by Ming Tappin

At the midnight buffet on my 1st cruise in 1991. WOW!!!

Life is full of interesting moments, and we are often amused at the way things turn out. For example, someone tells you a story, and you forget about it. But years later that story resurfaces, and gives you an "Aha!" moment. Here's my version.

Several years ago at a cruise seminar, the speaker started her presentation by telling us that her travel needs changed as she approached 50. She no longer wanted to put up with lineups. She preferred boutique hotels, and she wanted finer food, wine and personable service. She said, everyone at some point in life, will experience this change as well, and then it will be time to move them up to premium and luxury cruise lines. Other than a great way to introduce her brand, I really didn't think much more about that, until recently when I sat down to reflect on all the cruises I have taken.

Shore excursion crowd in Ephesus on my
NCL cruise in 2009.

I took my 1st cruise in 1991. My only other vacation as an adult was to Disneyworld. The photos in the cruise brochure looked pretty enticing, so I decided to give it a try. Off I went to the Bahamas on the "superliner" Fantasy, one of the 1st mega ships back in the day. I was in awe of the soaring atrium, endless entertainment and activities, and most of all, the delicious multi-course meals served by waiters in tuxedo jackets. All exciting experiences that completely sold me.

After that, I was cruising at least once every year. Being young and curious, I always booked the newest and biggest ship. I was fine with 3,000+ other people onboard, being herded on shore excursions and waiting at the buffet line. Whatever activities were on the daily program, I did as much as I could. And it was so much fun.

Attending the fruit carving demonstration
on my Bermuda cruise in 1994.

Cruise lines know the psyche of the new cruiser all too well, which is why new ships are designed to woo and wow. It is also why they're always deployed on 7 day Caribbean itineraries, the most popular cruise for 1st timers. That strategy certainly worked on me - as I took many of those.

Flash forward to 30+ cruises later, I noticed my habits changed. I'm still the same outgoing and social person I was before, but I stopped going to all the shows. It no longer mattered that the ship had 20 bars and lounges, the largest casino at sea or the longest water slides. I was not tired of the cruise scene by any means! But now I want to meet people I will actually see again for the

Big ships docked in St. Maarten. I was on the
Disney Magic in 2010.

rest of the cruise, instead of searching for them in the sea of faces. I pay extra to have the attentive service and cooked to order dinner in the specialty restaurant. And for the 1st time, I "graduated" from a balcony to a suite. And this change wasn't just happening to the way I vacation, it was also apparent in my lifestyle. I used to love going to large parties, now I prefer dinner with a few friends. I have favourite restaurants that I visit regularly, instead of trying out every new trendy place. When I shop, I pay more for higher quality.

Nowadays, relaxing on my balcony is
so much more civilized!

As I was evaluating this change in my preferences, the story from that cruise presentation, which I had completely forgotten about, came back to me. Aha! She was so right! But the part that makes me chuckle, is that I'm approaching that age she had mentioned. Funny how life's like that isn't it?

Ming Tappin is a cruise veteran with 20 years' experience in the industry and has sailed on 35 cruises and counting. Based in Vancouver, Ming is passionate about cruising and is always looking forward to her next adventure.

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