#1 Onboard smart tech

Technology for simplifying processes as well as providing unique experiences of luxury have been a must in cruise sector for several years. For example, many cruise lines have introduced use of bracelets or necklaces for passengers to unlock their rooms, purchase services onboard and many others.

In addition, some cruise giants like Carnival have introduced a pre-cruise service that allows the passengers to avoid the embarkation burden by registering all the required details before the cruise.

Meanwhile, smartphone apps for dinner reservations onboard and other services has seen increased interest by cruise majors such as MSC, Carnival Corporation, NCL and Royal Caribbean.

Another growing trend in shipping and in general, the so-called 3D printing, is also being used on ships as the MSC Meraviglia for entertaining children and adults.

As technology is accelerating at a rate which is transforming every aspect of our everyday lives, the way forward for smart technology onboard cruise ships is expected to keep up.

#2 Social Media

Social media have entered every fragment of our everyday life and of course, the luxury of cruising vacation could not lack connectivity. The capability of being constantly connected, even at sea, and sharing Instagram feeds and Facebook posts from travel experience, both onboard and on land from several cruise destinations, is some part of most young people’s routine and is unlikely to cease in 2019.

#3 Cyber risk

Issues surrounding cyber security are gaining an increased interest due to a growth in number of cyber attacks, making businesses around the world to emphasize more and more on measures to encounter risk. The Cruise Lines Industry Association (CLIA), as the world's largest cruise industry trade association, has been one of the industry groups which produced and supported the latest updated guidelines on cyber security onboard ships, in December 2018.

As the cyber security landscape is transforming along the route of new developments, the new guidelines include three new areas, Safety Management System, OT risks and supply chain dangers, in line with the wider shipping industry trend of cyber awareness and protection, which will not leave cruise industry unaffected this year.

#4 Solo travel

Solo traveling is gaining popularity with Google searches for “solo travel” and “traveling alone” rising more than ever before. Cruising allows for solo travel, as it provides the opportunity for travelers to connect with other travelers. Notably, last year, the case was not just for young travelers, but also for over-fifties.

#5 Age groups

Generation Z, referring to people born between mid-1990s to mid-2000s, is set to become the largest consumer generation by the year 2020 -outpacing even Millennials, referring to the previous generation, and unveiling ‘a new category of cruisers’, according to CLIA, which also prefers experiences over material items and is seeking out travel like its precedent.

 Cruise industry market in numbers 2017

  • 26,7 million passengers
  • 1,108,676 jobs
  • $45.6 billion in wages and salaries
  • $134 billion total output globally

#6 Is bigger the new big?

2018 saw the official launch of Symphony of the Seas, the world’s largest cruise ship, by Royal Caribbean. On the same context, cruise companies seem to maintain tendency over the years to launch bigger and bigger ships.

#7 New routes, new exploration

Ice melting has opened up new routes for shipping, such as Arctic cruise expeditions which enable passengers to experience different travel opportunities and observe unique natural phenomena like Northern Lights or Arctic wildlife.

#8 Gender equality and women in leadership roles

The cruise industry serves as a good example for the maritime sector in the field of women participation. While women seafarers constitute about 2% of crews globally, the cruise industry has been recently noting major landmarks, such as the appointment of Nicole Langosch as AIDA’s first female captain on AIDAsol, the award of Captain Belinda Bennett of Windstar Cruises with the UK Merchant Navy Medal for Meritorious Service as ‘the first black female captain in the commercial cruise industry’, the appointment of Kelly Craighead as CLIA President and CEO from 1st January 2019, as well as the launch of Celebrity Edge, a new multi-billion cruise ship known for involving women in its development and in several key positions onboard.

As gender equality is gaining an increasing awareness in business sector, women participation is expected to grow further in cruising, as a significant fragment of the maritime sector which seeks to achieve a greater gender balance.

#9 Environmental sustainability

2018 saw an environmental milestone with delivery of the world’s first LNG-fueled cruise ship to AIDA Cruises in December. Meanwhile, major cruise firms like Royal Caribbean, Disney, MSC Cruises, TUI, and several Carnival subsidiaries have placed orders for an estimated total of 19 LNG cruise ships to operate worldwide. Will 2019 continue this trend? Taking into consideration the upcoming stringent environmental regulations and the greater awareness brought as a result, from us it’s a yes.

Interesting facts

  • Cruise ships are some of the largest ships in the world by internal volume, bigger than many cargo ships.
  • In 2018, 11,9 million passengers came from the US, 2,19 from Germany, and 1,93 from UK.
  • The 2019 projection for global ocean cruise passengers is 30 million, up from 28,2 in 2018.
  • More than 8 out of 10 CLIA-certified travel agents stated they are expecting an increase in sales in 2019.
  • Caribbean is the queen of cruise deployment with the 34.4% of global share. Mediterranean reaches a 17.3%
  • 18 new CLIA-member ocean ships are scheduled to debut in 2019.