Our regular column from Andy Harmer, Vice President of Operations, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), Europe
Among the many milestones reached in 2015, we saw some great moments including the launch of P&O’s Britannia and Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas in Southampton, plus the 175th anniversary celebrations from Cunard, new river ships across Europe and worldwide, and plenty of onboard innovations. What a whirlwind year.
There were so many achievements – andthe whole cruise industry is excited about what the next 12 months will bring.
Cruise companies continue to focus a great deal on the amazing experiences they can offer to guests sailing on board their ships.
Today’s ships offer unprecedented attractions – from entertainment that would sit comfortably in either the West End or on Broadway, to celebrity and renowned chefs, snow grottoes, sky diving, planetariums and guest speakers to keep you enthralled in all manner of subjects. The choice is almost endless.
And be prepared to share these experiences with friends and family back at home as the industry also continues to invest in improved wifi and connectivity. Staying in touch and sharing special moments has never been easier, which is good news for keeping in touch with cruise lines on social media.
We are seeing significant investments being made with well-known brands now featuring on board ships, such as LEGO, Star Wars and Jamie Oliver, and there’s no doubt further brands will follow, which is all part of making time at sea even more special and enjoyable.
For many passengers, though, the biggest selling point of a cruise is the chance to visit multiple destinations in one holiday. With 471 cruise ships sailing the world, the choice of destinations is fast expanding too.
In 2016, expect to see further expansion on the world’s rivers, which are without doubt a great way to explore North America, Europe, Africa and Asia.
The rivers running through these regions allow access to remote destinations not always accessible by land, meaning there is always somewhere new to explore. We will also see more overnight stays being offered in ports, giving passengers the chance to explore interesting destinations at different times of the day. I was lucky enough to enjoy an evening on a Greek island recently before sailing to our next island. When the vibe changed from day to evening I felt I was experiencing a different side to the destination.
All eyes will be on Australia and Asia this year, as the number of ships there grows and our thirst for new destinations continues to evolve and develop.
There is a whole world of cruise holidays to explore, onshore and onboard. The big question is – where do you want to go in 2016?