Andy Harmer, senior vice-president membership and director CLIA UK & Ireland, takes a look at the latest cruise innovations in his regular column.

Andy Harmer with arms crossed

No other industry within the travel sector invests in innovation as much as the cruise industry. Cruise lines continue to change and evolve the cruise-holiday experience to meet their guests’ desires, which is why we chose the theme for this year’s flagship CLIA Conference to be ‘Next Generation’.

The theme explores what cruise lines are doing now that will shape the ‘next generation’ of cruises, from river and ocean to luxury and expedition, looking at how guests’ experiences will change as we know it, due to the significant investments being made. Onboard and shore-side experiences evolve year by year as cruise lines invest in revolutionary technology, partner with well-known brands and designers, and expand their land-based offerings. 

Sustainable cruising

‘Next Generation’ also refers to how the cruise industry is investing in fitting advanced technologies to minimise ships’ environmental impact. Globally, the cruise industry has already invested $1billion in new technologies and cleaner fuels. Looking ahead, the industry has committed more than $8billion to construction of highly advanced liquefied natural gas fuelled ships, which will have even lower emissions and higher energy efficiency. Cruise lines are also focusing on other ways to offer a more sustainable holiday, such as eliminating single-use plastics on board and purchasing locally sourced produce.

This not only creates the next generation of cruise holidays, it also attracts and retains the next generation of cruisers, as a growing number of travellers seek responsible, sustainable holidays. Furthermore, as the cruise industry evolves with advanced technology on board, we’ll see a next generation of cruisers made up of travellers who had never previously considered a cruise, but, due to the advancements in the industry, will start to choose cruise as their preferred holiday. 

The cruise industry is arguably the most exciting industry in travel, and as cruise lines continue to innovate on land and at sea, the ‘next generation’ of cruises will prove that this type of holiday is truly for everyone.  

Private islands

The cruise industry is investing heavily in innovations on shore, such as new ports, longer stays and new shore experiences, meaning that cruise guests are able to experience destinations in entirely new ways. One significant trend within the industry is the investment in land-based attractions, such as privately owned islands. 

With holidaymakers increasingly seeking more adventurous, immersive and unique experiences, cruise lines have already started to invest in ‘new’ islands or upgrading existing ones, with several of the cruise industry’s largest operators pledging to spend millions, sometimes even hundreds of millions, of dollars on enhancing their private-island resorts.

New versions of private islands have better bars, acres of lounge chairs, more shade, improved landscaping, deluxe beach pavilions and easier accessibility. And some islands, such as Princess Cruises’ Princess Cay, have seen the addition of wifi in order to meet guests’ requirements of always being connected. 

Investing in new facilities

CocoCay water park with slides, swimming pool and biplane
Royal Caribbean’s CocoCay

Royal Caribbean International is attracting thrill-seeking travellers through investing $200million in a range of new facilities at its exclusive Bahamian resort, CocoCay, which will include a new waterpark, with what is reported to be the tallest waterslide in North America. 

Travellers are also increasingly seeking luxury experiences on their holidays. As such, cruise lines have already started to invest in upgrading their private islands’ ‘luxury’ areas. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, has expanded its spa areas and built more than 30 new private villas. Furthermore, Virgin Voyages recently announced that it will provide an exclusive experience on all Scarlet Lady Caribbean sailings – the Beach Club at Bimini, Bahamas. Designed with Miami-based architects, the Beach Club at Bimini will overlook the ocean and will cascade down to the sea with a lagoon-style pool.

And as travellers become more environmentally conscious, MSC Cruises’ Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve – its private island in the Bahamas – budgeted at $200million, will feature a marine laboratory built by the line, dedicated to researching climate change-resistant coral.

It is estimated that 30 million guests will be taking a cruise globally this year, and 24 new ships launching in the market and increasing capacity by more than 42,000, investing in onshore attractions such as private islands means that cruise lines can drive demand for cruise – for
both repeat and new-to-cruise guests. 

Cruise lines are constantly upping their game by adding unique amenities and luxury enhancements both on shore and on board, in turn tailoring the experience to what guests desire.  

cruise innovation CocoCay swimming pool
CocoCay’s Oasis Lagoon

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