Cruise Industry Trends for 2020

Each year new trends emerge in the cruising industry that pave the way for the future of cruising. In 2019, we saw an increased demand for off the beaten path destinations, tech-driven features on ships, and an increase in working nomads – to name a few. In 2020, a big focal point of the industry will be on making cruising more environmentally sustainable, placing more importance on responsible tourism, the decrease in the generational gap in cruisers, and more options for solo travelers!

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability is not a term that is new in the cruising industry. The last few years have seen cruise lines ramping up their efforts to preserve the oceans they sail on and the destinations they visit. Cruise travel has become increasingly popular over the last decade with the projected number of travelers having almost doubled since 2009. 32 million people are expected to cruise in 2020, which is 2 million more than the previous year, and 13 million more than 20 years ago (CLIA)! With this consistent upward trend of passengers showing no signs of slowing down, the cruise industry is increasingly aware of the responsibility it has in reducing its environmental impact.

So how exactly is the cruise industry tackling this important task? For starters, they have invested $22 billion into new energy efficiency technologies and cleaner fuels, they’ve set a 40% target for reduction in rate of carbon emissions by 2030 (compared to 2008), and they are reducing the average age of their fleets (CLIA).

Liquified Natural Gas

Liquified Natural Gas are natural gasses that are drawn from the earth’s core and then are super cooled to become liquified natural gas. This liquified state makes the gas odorless, colorless, non-toxic, and non-corrosive. The advantages of adopting LNG are impressive as it creates a cheaper, more efficient, and more environmentally friendly gas. LNG releases zero sulfur, has 99% less particulate emissions, 85% less nitrogen oxide emissions, and 25% less greenhouse gas emissions.

Almost all cruise lines are opting to use LNG for all the new ships being built in the future, as this will result in a longer lifespan with less wear and tear on the engine, low maintenance costs, and cleaner emissions. For existing ships, the cost of converting to LNG would be too substantial so cruise lines are looking to other methods for these ships, such as exhaust gas cleaning systems.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (ECGS)

An exhaust gas cleaning system, also known as a scrubber, allows ships to continue using heavy fueled oil, while reducing their Sulphur oxide and particulate matter emissions. In short, this scrubber will literally scrub away harmful sulfur oxides from exhaust gases. Adopting ECGS will allows ships to reduce their sulfur oxide levels by 98%, reduce total particulate matter by 50%, and reduce nitrogen oxides by 12%.

Shore-Side Power

More and more ships are becoming equipped with the ability to receive shore-side electricity while in port. This allows ships to turn off their engines and tap into cleaner energy available at ports, cutting emissions and harmful toxins. This becomes more important as cruise lines spend time in port to allow cruisers to truly experience all that their destination has to offer.

For more details on what cruise lines are doing to lessen their impact on the environment, here are a few cruise line sustainability websites:

Responsible Tourism

Couple on The Great Wall of Chine

Responsible, or sustainable tourism, is just as important as environmental sustainability, as these practices often go hand in hand. As economically advantageous as it to draw hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors to a destination, the disadvantages of overcrowding, and careless behaviors by tourists, are a detriment to the unique heritage, landscape, and way of life of the places visited. As the demand for cruising increases steadily with each passing year, cruise lines are aware of their responsibility to not only preserve the physical land they allow passengers to traverse, but also to respect, protect, and value the culture and environment of the places they visit.

Cruise lines are working with local communities to brainstorm creative ways to manage the flow of tourists they bring to shore, as well as implementing the highest standards of responsible tourism (CLIA). For example, Princess Cruises embodies a concept of “socially conscious” cruising. “It’s about creating a small group that have immersive training onboard, and then when they go ashore, it’s about doing things that are good for the local communities,” Vice President of North American Sales for Carnival Corp. and Princess John Chernesky said. Other examples include how CLIA Cruise Lines, in collaboration with the Mayor’s office and the City Council, developed new measures to alleviate tourism flow issues in Dubrovnik; in Santorini, the cruise industry worked with local authorities on a new ship arrival management system to spread the flow of tourists visiting the system; and in Alaska cruise lines have implemented more stringent waste water requirements than even the communities on land (CLIA).

Positive Cruise Attitudes in Younger Generations

Retirees, empty-nesters, and old couples – this is what most people considered to be the cruiser demographic in the past. But not anymore! The cruising world has drastically changed as younger generations are favoring experiences and adventures over material goods. And the numbers don’t lie – more and more stats are proving how much the cruising demographic has changed over the last few years with more than 66% of Generation X and 71% of Millennials having a more positive attitude about cruising, compared to two years ago (CLIA). Although Millennials are said to be the largest living adult generation in the US, Generation Z (the generation following the Millennials) is set to become the largest consumer generation by 2020 (CLIA). As the preference for experiences becomes an increasing trend, cruise lines are adapting by creating innovative, cutting-edge, and entertaining ships, as well as itineraries that cater to a younger crowd. These include, but are not limited to, music festivals at sea, remote destination itineraries, tech-inspired ships, and endless activities onboard.

It’s important to note that with all this attention given to younger generations, cruise lines have NOT forgotten about the older generations; their bread and butter that brought cruising to the forefront of vacation planning. There are still plenty of cruise lines, ships, and itineraries that cater to a more refined taste and traditional way of cruising, with elegantly designed staterooms, traditional dining rooms, and culture-rich onboard and off-shore experiences.

You get a cruise, and you get a cruise, and you get a cruise – every generation gets a cruise!

Solo Cruising

Solo Traveler with BackpackLet’s face it, cruising has always been geared towards “couples” or “families”, so much so that staterooms on cruise ships were designed with 2+ beds and stateroom fares were charged based on double-occupancy (solo travelers had to pay for themselves as well as a single-supplement fee of 10% to 100% of the double occupancy rate – yikes!). But luckily, times are changing. Over the last few years, solo cruising has finally received the attention it has so desperately been craving and cruise lines are retrofitting their ships, and changing policies, to cater to this emerging trend.

Solo cabins, although much smaller than double-occupancy cabins, are the answer solo travelers have been waiting for. The ability to unpack once, have all your meals included, and explore multiple destinations, all without paying a single-supplement fee, has made cruising a much more affordable and exciting vacation option for those opting to travel alone.

Here is a list of a few of the major cruise lines doing their part to assist solo travelers:

  • Royal Caribbean International
  • Norwegian Cruise Line
  • Holland America Line
  • Costa Cruises
  • Cunard Line
  • AmaWaterways

Although solo cruising is still a fairly new concept for cruise lines, and there is a lot more progress to be made, the fact that they’re starting to finally acknowledge the need for this not-so-niche market is definitely something worth celebrating. We have no doubt that we’ll be seeing more solo-cruiser features and amenities in the future.

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