CLIA Predicts Top Trends In 2019 Cruise Travel

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

CLIA CEO Cindy D'Aoust is stepping down at the end of the year.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization, has released its 2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report predicting the top trends in cruise travel. 

Through industry research, travel insights, and taking the pulse of travel advisors, CLIA foresees social media and restorative travel as top cruise travel trends in the coming year. In addition, the State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report reveals that cruise travel continues to grow and contribute to the overall global economy. In fact, more than eight out of 10 CLIA-certified travel agents are expecting to see a rise in cruise sales in the next twelve months.

“Research and forecasting the year ahead allows the cruise industry an opportunity to take a big picture look at the cruise and travel industries to evaluate and predict all of the exciting things to come,” said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA president and CEO. “The coming year’s trends truly reflect the intersection between the experiences travellers seek and the cruise industry’s innovations.”

2019 Cruise Travel Trend Predictions

Instagrammable Cruise Travel: Instagram posts are driving interest in travel around the world, so much so that on an average day, there can be close to 351 million posts with the tag #travel. With onboard connectivity, cruise passengers can populate their Instagram feeds with diverse travel experiences both onboard and on land.  

Total Restoration: Stressed out from fast-paced lives, travellers are seeking ways to check out from daily responsibilities and rejuvenate more than ever before. Cruise lines are responding by offering wellness in the form of restorative spa experiences, onboard oxygen bars, healthy menu choices for a wide variety of diets, and the latest in fitness innovations.  

Achievement Over Experience: Experiential travel has evolved into achievement travel as vacationers are seeking immersive, cultural experiences beyond sightseeing. Bucket lists have become more goal-oriented and cruise lines are meeting these demands. Passengers can conquer Machu Picchu or complete culinary workshops hosted by Le Cordon Bleu chefs.  

On-Board with Smart Tech: Cruise lines have adopted wearable technology for cruise travelers -- including keychains, necklaces, bracelets, and more -- in order to provide a highly personalized travel experience while on and off the ship.  

Conscious Travel: Travellers want to see the world in a conscious, mindful way. CLIA says the cruise industry is more conscientious than ever, working with local communities to preserve their heritage and implementing innovations that decrease the environmental footprint of cruise travel. The industry is also working with destinations to bring the benefits of tourism to local economies while preserving local cultures, landmarks and environments.  

Access is the New Luxury: Travellers are setting their sights on destinations previously out of reach, some only accessible now by cruise ship. They want to be among the first of their peers to experience destinations such as the Galapagos Islands and Antarctica.  

Gen Z at Sea: Generation Z is set to become the largest consumer generation in the next two years -- outpacing even Millennials. Like the generation before, this age bracket prefers authentic experiences over material items and has an even greater wanderlust. The appeal of multiple destinations and unique experiences, such as music festivals at sea, is helping attract this new generation of cruisers.  

Off-Peak Adventures: The off-peak season is rising in popularity, whether travellers are looking to escape the cold in a tropical place or embrace the chill in a new destination. Cruising offers some once-in-a-lifetime experiences during the colder months that include: excursions to see the Northern Lights, visiting a penguin colony, and touring European Christmas Markets.

Working Nomads: Combining work with leisure time is on the rise. Straying far from the notion of device-free travel, many modern travellers or “digital nomads” are opting for trips where they can work remotely which cuts down on time off and lost wages. With WiFi, desks and work-friendly cafes, travellers can keep up with work while enjoying a cruise vacation. 

Female-Centred Cruising: With the number of female travellers growing, many tourism and travel companies are creating female-centred itineraries based on interests and connecting women with other women. 

Going Solo: With more Google searches for “solo travel” and “travelling alone” than ever before, individual travel is rising in popularity. Cruising allows for solo travel without the worry of arranging a ton of details while visiting even the most far-reaching destinations and connecting with other travellers, forming community bonds and experiencing once-in-a-lifetime things.

2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook by The Numbers 

The cruise industry is projected to continue to grow throughout 2019 with an estimated 30 million travellers expected to step aboard, up 6% from 28.2 million in 2018. In the coming year 18 new ships are on order from CLIA cruise lines. 

A total of 272 CLIA-member cruise ships are projected to be in operation by June 2019. The cruise industry continues to make a positive impact on communities around the globe  by sustaining 1,108,676 jobs equaling US$45.6 billion in wages and salaries and US$134 billion total output worldwide in 2017.

For the full 2019 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook findings, visit: 

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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