More than 32 million people are expected to set sail in 2020, according to the Cruise Lines International Association. Virtuoso’s cruise portfolio includes 33 ocean, river, yacht, and expedition partners that offer thousands of itineraries around the globe. Translation: From whale-watching in Alaska to spending an entire port day at Saint-Tropez’s coolest beach clubs, there’s a voyage out there for everyone. (And when travelers book through a Virtuoso travel advisor, they receive an array of extra perks.)
So what’s getting everybody so excited to cruise? We tapped into our global network of luxury travel advisors and cruise lines to identify this year’s biggest cruising trends – these are the destinations, voyages, and onboard amenities we’ll be seeing a lot more of soon.
According to a Virtuoso-YouGov survey, the top reason travelers are interested in cruises is the ability to visit multiple destinations. No longer just focused on the Caribbean or Mediterranean, cruise ships call on ports as diverse as Muscat, Oman; Manta, Ecuador; and Rarotonga in the Cook Islands. Next year, Silversea’s first Expedition World Cruise will visit ports including Rabaul, Papua New Guinea; Ksamil, Albania; and Bawemataluwo, Indonesia.
More Time In Port
New itineraries and shore excursions are putting the emphasis on destination immersion. Case in point: Itineraries on Azamara feature late-night and overnight stays, complimentary evening performances in port, and shore excursions that go beyond the bus tours of days past, encouraging deeper connections with local people and cultures.
Sustainability matters, and cruise lines are responding to this travel transformation by implementing more environmentally friendly technology and programs to support the destinations they visit, both economically and culturally. Hurtigruten, Lindblad Expeditions, Aqua Expeditions, and Royal Caribbean International are among those leading the way. By 2030, the cruise industry has committed to reducing its fleet-wide rate of CO² emissions by 40 percent, reports the Cruise Lines International Association. The economic impact on the communities that cruise ships visit is substantial too, sustaining 1.1 million jobs that equal more than $45 billion in wages.
It’s exactly what it sounds like: short, close-to-home jaunts for travelers with little time, but a lot of desire to get away. Norwegian Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, and the soon-to-debut Virgin Voyages all offer three- to six-day Caribbean itineraries, all of which depart from easily accessible ports – Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and New Orleans, to name a few.
Crystal, Seabourn, Viking, and Ponant are all offering more expedition cruises as the adventure-cruising boom continues. Passengers are trading flip-flops for parkas and heading to places such as Antarctica, the Arctic, Greenland, and Norway’s fjords. Expeditions aren’t anything new, but these luxury cruise lines are upping their games by giving passengers once-in-a-lifetime experiences while on board. One great example: Quark Expeditions will feature heli-skiing in Antarctica beginning next year.
For every cruiser that can’t wait to sail somewhere remote, there are passengers who are just as excited to stay close to home. Cruise lines featuring U.S. sailings are flourishing, with American Queen’s Mississippi River cruises in high demand. (Australians who want to cruise the legendary river are also booking voyages.) Another popular U.S. river: the Pacific Northwest’s Columbia, with sailings offered by American Queen and UnCruise.
(Way) Advanced Bookings
Some cruisers will only travel if their favorite suite is available – no exceptions. And because suite inventory is relatively small on board (especially for owner’s and penthouse suites), demand is high. As a result, cruise lines are opening their itineraries well in advance, especially for world cruises. Better start planning for 2022.
Top Photo: Silversea Cruises