What does the year ahead hold for cruise? Who better to ask than Douglas Ward, the author of the Berlitz guide, Cruising and Cruise Ships
I’m often asked to do a bit of crystal ball gazing when it come to cruising, and when I look ahead to 2012, I’m guessing it’s going to be a an exciting year ahead.
So, what’s in store? Here are my predictions:
1. Big is beautiful?
The sheer size allows them to incorporate more dining, entertainment and youth facilities than smaller ships can and I predict this trend will continue. The latest ships on order – some 24 due to be delivered between 2012 and 2015 – confirm that. All, bar three (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises, Ponant Cruises and Oceania Cruises), will be large, ‘resort-style’ ships, with 16 of them measuring more than 100,000 gross tons (which is big!).
However, this also leads to more passengers seeking to downsize to more ‘human-sized’ ships for a more personal holiday experience without all the hoopla.
2. Design classic
The creative juices are flowing in the designers’ veins. For example, in 2013 you really will be able to ‘walk on water’ when Princess Cruises’ 3,600-passenger Royal Princess debuts: a whole bar and walkway will be cantilevered over the ship’s side, with a glass floor.
3. Destination, destination, destination
Expedition-style cruising to amazing destinations such as the poles (particularly with next year’s 100th anniversary of Scott’s ill-fated South Pole expedition) and far-flung islands such as Papua New Guinea, the Marquesas and other South Pacific island groups, will continue to be popular. And the trend for longer, more ‘exotic’ cruises will continue. By contrast, more British passengers are turning to round-Britain cruises, possibly to try and avoid flying, or perhaps due to the tough economy.
4. Food, glorious food
You’ll find an even more diverse range of culinary options and food ‘experiences’ aboard the large resort ships than ever before, as specialist restaurants and fine dining become ever more popular. There will be more healthy food options, including wholefood, bio, live (or raw) and vegan food items on the menus of the upscale niche operators as health-conscious passengers seek to lose – not gain – weight on their holidays.
5. Value added
Will cruising remain good value? Absolutely – although crew and operational costs will rise. But, like the low-cost airlines, it’s the add-ons – such as government taxes, surcharges and other fees – that take the glow off a cheap cruise holiday. Although it’s doubtful that we will see the return of all-inclusive cruising for the large resort ships, for ships in the more upscale range, allinclusive may be here to stay.