The Hottest Cruise Trends For 2012

In terms of entertainment value, service standards and the ability to visit multiple destinations on a single voyage, there’s just no substitute for a cruise.  And each year, the lines offer new choices and amenities, most a direct result of public opinion and demand, governmental regulations or the world economy.

Knowing what’s forcasted for the coming year allows the consumer to get a jump on the hottest experiences to be had on their next cruise, so here’s a peek into what kinds of trends are on the horizon- the biggest cruising trends for 2012:

1.  AFFLUENT TRAVELERS MAKING A BUYING COMEBACK

In recent years, searches for “frugal traveling” have steady increased- a reflection of the fact that the U.S. population has been struggling under the economic crisis, and that consumers have been cutting back on pleasure travel.  Even among the affluent, vacations were scaled back; they hesitated to portray an image of extravagance as others worked to make ends meet.

Data has emerged from recent polls, however, that suggests that the idea of “frugal traveling” among the affluent seems to be diminishing.  While the affluent are still mindful of their spending, they now say they once again wish to enjoy their luxury vacations; a recent Conde Nast survey shows that 88 percent say they’re “happy to spend money on things they’re passionate about”.

This is good news for the travel industry as a whole, since the affluent consumer (those making $100,00 or more) makes up the largest part of travel buyers – they spend more than $4,000 per household annually on vacations or personal travel-  3 times as much as the general public.

Information Sources: CruiseCompete CruiseTrends™, Travel Agent Central, Conde Nast

2.  CRUISE CUISINE

2012 will see an increased choice in dining choices and specialty restaurants on board the cruise ships.  While the idea of a specialty restaurant is not a new one (the original Queen Mary, circa 1936, featured a very popular specialty restaurant- the Verandah Grill) the options and variety offered onboard cruise ships is on the rise.

These restaurants are quite popular because they are an excellent way to celebrate a special occasion, or create a particularly memorable dining experience.  And although there is generally an additional fee to dine, it’s usually less than what a similar experience would be in its onshore counterpart.

Another reason for the surge in specialty restaurants?  The cruise lines have recruited some of the world’s top chefs, to provide the ultimate epicurean experience.  Many of these chefs have trained at culinary organizations that demand high quality standards, like Cordon Bleu and Relais and Chateaux; they’ve also won culinary awards from coveted sources like James Beard, Food & Wine Magazine, AAA and Zagats.

Get a sneak peek at the cruise lines specialty restaurants here.

3.  GREEN TRAVEL AND “GIVING BACK GAIN IMPORTANCE

Cruising has gained a new focus for many travelers, who have become more invested in sustainable tourism and making a positive contribution to the people and communities they visit.  Travelers are seeking more information about the green practices and environmental reputation of the cruise line they are sailing with, and the lines themselves are making an effort to reduce their carbon footprint.

The consumer is also seeking a way to “give back” and want to see how their tourism dollars are benefiting the local communities they visit. Many lines are offering the chance to help out a charity by participating in an onboard event or program, volunteering while in port, or by a direct donation to a worthy cause.

Information Sources: Hotel News Resource, AllThingsCruise

4.  CRUISE PRICES CLIMBING AGAIN IN 2012

In conjunction with a renewed interest in vacation spending, the cruise market has begun to respond accordingly; cruise pricing has begun to show signs of increase going into 2012.

Cruisers can still expect to find discounted itineraries, particularly in Europe, where political issues have put a damper on the cruise industry, but overall pricing is on the rise.

Information Sources: USA Today

5. THE RESURGENCE OF AN AMERICAN RIVER LINE 

River cruising is once again a hot commodity, and travelers wishing to experience a unique steamboat voyage along historic American rivers now have another booking option- the Great American Steamboat Company, scheduled to begin domestic river cruises in April of 2012. The reintroduction of the American Queen is quite a boon for the cruise consumer, who has been clamoring for more domestic cruise options; the revival of this ship will once
again allow cruisers to explore the heartland of America, taking in the unique beauty and history this region has to offer at the relaxed pace of a paddleboat river cruise.

6.  CRUISE FACILITIES FOR THE DISABLED

The AAPD estimates the number of Americans with disabilities at 50 million, which represents approximately 16% of the overall population.  The cruise lines are implementing measures to ensure that this segment of the population enjoys an appropriately equipped and pleasurable voyage when cruising.

Most vessels constructed over the last several years adhere to ADA requirements and are likely to have purpose-built cabins, usually in more than one category.  Many lines have also retrofitted their older ships to conform to current standards.

Information Sources: AAPD

 

 

 

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