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Saturday,  July 13, 2024 12:58 PM 

Virtuoso shares top cruise trends data for 2024 & beyond

  • Cruises
  •   06-13-2024  2:45 pm
  •   Pax Global Media

Virtuoso shares top cruise trends data for 2024 & beyond
Explora Journeys' EXPLORA I. (Pax Global Media/file photo)
Pax Global Media

Virtuoso has released survey findings that offer a glimpse into the preferences of cruisers.

Drawing on the expertise of more than 300 professional travel advisors who specialize in cruising, Virtuoso found that 58 per cent believe it will emerge as the strongest tourism sector in 2024-2025, surpassing land-only experiences.

To further illustrate the point, Virtuoso’s 18-to-24-month forward-looking cruise bookings in excess of $50,000 have increased more than 100 per cent compared to the same timeframe last year.

Among the cruise categories with the highest anticipated bookings, Premium Ocean takes the lead at 34 per cent, followed by Luxury Ocean at 27 per cent, River at 22 per cent and Expedition at 15 per cent.

“This is an exciting and transformative time in the cruise industry,” said Melissa Araya, vice-president, cruise at Virtuoso. “Cruise has some of the most loyal, repeat passengers, and then we also have these newcomers who are embracing cruising with such enthusiasm. With new lines and new vessels coming into the market, there are so many more options and such a wide variety of itineraries to choose from. Virtuoso advisors understand their clients on a deeper level, and they are masters at matching the client to the right type of cruise. Even those who never considered cruising before can do so with confidence, venturing into new territory with the comfort of a trusted ally by their side.”

The following are key insights sourced from a survey conducted among travel advisors in the Virtuoso cruise community:

A new wave of first-time cruisers

The recent boom in cruise innovation indicates there is a ship and experience for almost everyone.

Sixty per cent of surveyed advisors have observed an increase in first-time cruisers.

According to a recent survey by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 27 perc ent of cruisers over the past two years are new to cruising, an increase of 12 per cent over previous years.

Additionally, 62 per cent of Virtuoso advisors have observed that first-time cruisers often turn to them for guidance in planning and booking their sailings, emphasizing the value of travel advisors’ knowledge and role in crafting journeys.

Elevated levels of luxury

Scheduled to embark in January 2026, Four Seasons Yachts will sail to some of the world’s most captivating destinations.

Meanwhile, the eagerly awaited Ilma, the latest luxury superyacht from The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, is undergoing final preparations for its inaugural voyage from Monte Carlo to Rome this September.

Explora Journeys’ first vessel is already cruising and the second is scheduled to set sail in Aug. 2024.

Shifting demographics

Fifty-nine per cent of advisors have noticed a demographic transformation underway in the cruise industry.

Of this group, 36 per cent attribute the shift to an increase in bookings from Millennials and Gen Z.

Supporting this trend, CLIA’s research indicates a promising future for cruising among the younger demographic, with 81 per cent of Millennials and 74 per cent of Gen Z who have recently cruised expressing intentions to cruise again.

Twenty-seven per cent of Virtuoso advisors attribute the changing landscape to an increasing preference among families for cruising, while an equal percentage (27 per cent) have observed a rise in female solo cruisers.

Dynamic and diverse

Advisors report their clients’ cruise itineraries reflect a variety of motivations, ranging from adventure and exploration to cultural immersion and personal fulfillment.

The traditional waters of Alaska and the Caribbean and remain popular, while there’s growing interest in more remote expedition cruises to places like Antarctica, Iceland, the Galapagos Islands and even the North Pole.

Japan and West Africa are attracting cruisers seeking immersive cultural experiences.

Personal passions also play a role in shaping travel choices, such as Australia’s Kimberley region for photography enthusiasts and Ireland for travellers looking to reconnect with their ancestral heritage.

Additionally, the introduction of new seasonality for cruise itineraries, such as winter Mediterranean sailings, is a savvy way to explore popular destinations without the crowds, often at a better value.

Cruising into 2025

Surveyed advisors identified the top five cruising trends they believe will continue into 2025:

  1. Destination immersion with more nights in port or overnights on land
  2. Cruising to cold-weather climates (Alaska, Antarctica, the Arctic)
  3. Solo cruising
  4. New seasonality for itineraries
  5. Increased demand and luxury offerings for multigenerational cruising

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