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Everyone you know is going on a cruise

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  perrie-halpern  •  2 weeks ago  •  45 comments

By:   Harriet Baskas

Everyone you know is going on a cruise
First-time cruisegoers are climbing aboard at record levels, as younger passengers increasingly decide that weeklong boat trips aren't "only for the elderly."

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T


Lots of people will be getting their sea legs this summer.

Ports have been packed with cruise ships over the last few years, as vacationers flock to ever larger vessels and operators race to accommodate a surge in post-pandemic bookings — many of them from first-time passengers. The industry expects even more this year.

Benjamin Xiang, a San Francisco-based flight attendant, went on his first cruise last August, setting aside his reservations about "cruise people" and a type of trip he'd imagined would be "not my travel style."

Taking advantage of a Virgin Voyages promotion that let him use credit card points to cover the $2,500 bill, Xiang booked a weeklong, all-inclusive, adults-only cruise from Barcelona, with stops at Mallorca, Ibiza and along the French Riviera.

"I invited my best friend, we prepaid a $600 bar tab, and we were like, 'We'll just hang by the pool, read a book or something,'" said Xiang, 35. "Turned out we partied every single night and had a blast."

He's among the many cruise newbies who've helped power the industry's recent growth. Some 27% of cruise passengers over the past two years have been first-timers, up 12% from the prior two-year period, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a trade group.

Turned out we partied every single night and had a blast.

Benjamin Xiang, 35, San Francisco

"Will I go back? I think yes," Xiang said. "Will I pay this time? Yes."

That's exactly what cruise operators are hoping for, and so far they're getting it: 82% of all cruisers say they'll book again, CLIA's latest report found.

After welcoming 31.7 million passengers last year, 7% more than in 2019, the industry expects volumes to swell to 34.7 million by the end of 2024. Experts say a combination of newcomers, repeat bookers and younger travelers are powering the uptick.

Like Xiang, many first-time cruisers are groups of friends traveling together, said Jennifer Klaussen, who owns Sundari Travel in Malibu, California.

"Once they get on a cruise and realize it's not what they thought it would be, they're usually interested in future cruises and diverse destinations," she said, adding that newer operators have managed to "reduce the stigma associated with cruising — that it's only for the elderly."

Passengers under age 40, including kids, made up around 42% of cruisegoers last year, up from 35% in 2019, according to CLIA. While the average age of a cruise customer is 46 industrywide, millennials now make up nearly the same share — 22% — as baby boomers and Gen Xers, who each comprise 24%.

"The cruise industry has been hard at work to launch new ships and experiences that are attractive to a younger, newer demographic," said Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic, "whether that's a big, new ship with eye-catching attractions for families, or more bucket-list-worthy experiences like sailings in the Galapagos or Antarctica."

The cruise industry has been hard at work to launch new ships and experiences that are attractive to a younger, newer demographic.

Colleen McDaniel, editor-in-chief of Cruise Critic

Amenities don't hurt either, said Nathan Rosenberg, chief brand officer at Virgin Voyages, which began sailing only in 2021, as the cruise industry rebounded from the pandemic. "Millennials and Gen Z love the fact that everything is included. Think meals foodies would love, tips covered, Wi-Fi to stay connected and a ton of fitness classes," he said.

Vessels are getting bigger to handle the growing demand.

In January, Royal Caribbean Group launched Icon of the Seas — currently the world's largest cruise ship, with 20 decks, 40 restaurants and room for more than 7,000 passengers and 3,000 crew members.

The company, meanwhile, reported a 16% increase in new cruisegoers between this year and last across its various cruise lines. Nearly half of all Royal Caribbean guests are millennials or younger, CEO Jason Liberty said on the company's first-quarter earnings call.

Similarly, Norwegian Cruise Lines CEO Harry Sommer told CNBC earlier this month, "We appeal obviously to older customers, but millennial and Gen Z is the fastest-growing segment of our cruising right now."

Cruises generally aren't cheap, though, and Sommer noted that the company's target customer is middle- or upper-income. As consumer spending cools down across much of the economy, Americans are adjusting their summer vacation plans to fit their budgets.

The share of travelers put off by steep prices hit 32% in Deloitte's annual summer travel survey, up sharply from 24% last year. But more affluent vacationers still seem eager to shell out on everything from first-class airfare to luxury train trips, as the industry continues to push premium offerings.

"More higher-income travelers are headed to cruises," whereas "lower-income travelers are going camping," the Deloitte report, released Tuesday, said. ("RV trips are up across the board," it added.)

That doesn't mean cruise passengers aren't paying attention to price.

Jaclyn Groh will be going on her first cruise in March 2025, sailing around the Caribbean. The 34-year-old therapist and social work professor at Ohio State University in Columbus typically takes her family on boat trips on a lake, beach visits, "and of course the occasional Disney adventure for the kiddos," said Groh.

While some of her friends have done family cruises, she's never been interested in the largest cruise ships because they seem "overwhelming." But in shopping around for a vacation next year for just her and her husband, Groh said her travel agent's description of the packages available won her over.

The smaller Explora II vessel she opted for has a "boutique feel that we love," she said. And it's priced about the same as the resort in Curacao where the couple will be celebrating their 10th anniversary this fall. That week on land will run about $6,500, while the cruise comes to about $6,700.

"The price seems very reasonable for all of the inclusions, and yet with the cruise we will get to experience so many new locations and excursions," said Groh, who's looking forward to "a perfect combination of resting in luxury and adventuring."


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cjcold
Professor Quiet
1  cjcold    2 weeks ago

Went on a Blues Cruise many years ago and hated it. 

Jammed with some old friends but nobody was into it.

Slept with a lady who was even older than I was.

Was seasick half the time and couldn't wait for a port.

Jumped ship and flew home. Will never do a cruise again!

 
 
 
Buzz of the Orient
Professor Expert
2  Buzz of the Orient    2 weeks ago

Au contraire..don't know anyone who is going on a cruise, never went on one myself and never wanted to, especially after the claustrophobic feeling I got in the cabin hallway on the Queen Mary when I toured it while it was moored at Long Beach.  

 
 
 
evilone
Professor Guide
3  evilone    2 weeks ago

My kid and his wife like cruises, but I have no desire to ever go on anything that isn't a day trip. I spent 6 years doing cruises for the Coast Guard....

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
3.1  Freefaller  replied to  evilone @3    2 weeks ago

Yeah being in the Navy for 4 years kinda killed any desire to cruise for me too

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
3.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Freefaller @3.1    2 weeks ago

Yep. 20 years in the Navy and two cruises courtesy of haze gray underway cruise lines, one of which included a extended stay off the coast of Da Nang, Vietnam. That was enough for me.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.1.1    2 weeks ago

lol …. It took me about 20 years after getting out of the Corps to have any desire to tent camp again.

Funny how these things work eh Doc?  jrSmiley_9_smiley_image.gif

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
3.1.3  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Sparty On @3.1.2    2 weeks ago

Yep.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Ed-NavDoc @3.1.1    2 weeks ago

Weren't you granted an extra long vacay in Antarctica, too?

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
Professor Quiet
3.1.5  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Trout Giggles @3.1.4    2 weeks ago

Yes I was. Six months a year for 3 years from 1987 through 1990. Flew commercial from LAX to Christchurch, New Zealand and then ski equipped LC-130 from Christchurch to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. Never rode a ship there.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4  Trout Giggles    2 weeks ago

If I do a cruise I want to do an Alaskan cruise. My parents did one before they both passed and they loved it

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4    2 weeks ago

brrr, F that. I did a cruise to the bahamas long ago. my favorite part was that there was always something available to eat 24/7.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
4.1.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  devangelical @4.1    2 weeks ago

I would go in June not October - April. I want to see whales

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
4.1.2  devangelical  replied to  Trout Giggles @4.1.1    2 weeks ago

plenty of great white whales beached in south carolina...

 
 
 
MonsterMash
Sophomore Quiet
4.2  MonsterMash  replied to  Trout Giggles @4    2 weeks ago
If I do a cruise I want to do an Alaskan cruise. My parents did one before they both passed and they loved it

My parents did the same, said it was the most enjoyable cruise they've ever been on.  

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5  Sparty On    2 weeks ago

Pod people.    That’s what we call folks on a cruise ship.    

They come to island/city you are on, disembark in herds, herd on over to the same shops and restaurants, herd back to the ship, leave, get replaced by the next cruise ship and repeat on an endless loop.

Pod people …..

 
 
 
Drinker of the Wry
Junior Expert
5.1  Drinker of the Wry  replied to  Sparty On @5    2 weeks ago

You got that right.  We went to Santorini in Sept to avoid the crowds but when a big cruise ship comes in, instant crowd overwhelming the infrastructure.  The only good news there is that it takes a while to disembark so we would use that heard start and leave Fira or Oia fora beach, vineyard, or caldera hike.

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Senior Guide
5.1.1  Right Down the Center  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @5.1    2 weeks ago

Same here.  And the same thing at Mykonos and Crete.

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.1.2  Sparty On  replied to  Drinker of the Wry @5.1    2 weeks ago

My favorite place to get away dive was Cozumel Mexico off the Yucatán peninsula.    Beautiful diving, quaint, quiet little town.     Back in the 70’s-80’s you might see one or two cruise ship a week.    Manageable.    It devolved into cruise ship city.    6,7,8 cruise ships a day now.    That’s like 15,000 passengers a day.    A madhouse.    Not only did it destroy the islands Caribbean ambiance but it helped trash the reefs as well.

Oh well, I guess I should be thankful I got 35+ years of good diving out of it.

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
5.1.3  Freefaller  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.2    2 weeks ago

Loved diving in Mexico back in the day, so beautiful.  May get back to it eventually but for now with my broken hep I can only swim in circles, lol..

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.1.4  Sparty On  replied to  Freefaller @5.1.3    2 weeks ago

Yeah, don’t know how far back you go but the shallow reef has been pretty much trashed.    The deeper reef is better but as you know not as plentiful or colorful at depth.   Been about ten years since I’ve been back there but doubtful it’s improved much.

Such is progress as it were …..

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
5.1.5  Freefaller  replied to  Sparty On @5.1.4    2 weeks ago

Not as far back as yourself about 30 years.. I always liked the deep reef dives (60-100 ft) better, less people flailing about, grabbing chunks and stepping on formations.  Shipwrecks are fun dives too.  Best shallow reefs ever for me were the Maldives ( it's a bit of a haul and expensive but imo worth it)

 
 
 
shona1
Professor Quiet
5.2  shona1  replied to  Sparty On @5    2 weeks ago

Morning...in the Pacific islands they call cruise ships.. floating cash tins..

Went on a cruise 6 years ago wouldn't bother again..to many people and to much time wasted getting to the islands etc..would rather fly and spend days/weeks there than about 10 hours at the island on a cruise ship..

They really aren't anything more than floating petri dishes..from gastro, COVID and anything else that happens to be floating around.. plus you still seem to be forking out $$ on a cruise as many things aren't included..depends which mob you go with though...

Nope once was enough for me..

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
5.2.1  Sparty On  replied to  shona1 @5.2    2 weeks ago

Yeah, never done it but agree with Trout.    I might do an Alaskan one or even something like Antarctica but Caribbean or Pacific?     No way.

I’ve done small dive liveaboards.    Like 20 bodies max.    That’s nice.    Best live aboard I’ve done was your way, to Chuuk Lagoon and Palau.    Great Barrier Reef is on my bucket list for that live aboard.

 
 
 
Dragon
Freshman Silent
6  Dragon    2 weeks ago

We used to cruise Caribbean, Mexico, South America years ago, got burnt out on cruising. Decided last year to try a river cruise in Europe on Viking, Amsterdam to Budapest, really enjoyed it. Small ship, about 100 people, no one under 18, most were 60/70s, no casinos, no photographers, no one trying to sell you something, a few times had locals on board for entertainment. It was about the destinations. We are going on another Viking cruise in July, this time ocean beginning in Norway, ending in Sweden, about 900 passengers. We've done lots of independent travel and enjoy the change of basically having most everything taken care of. Still planning independent travel, this is just another option. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  Dragon @6    2 weeks ago

I've always wanted to do those, too. I want to go thru Budapest and that way. I want to see old castles high above the bank

 
 
 
Dragon
Freshman Silent
6.1.1  Dragon  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1    2 weeks ago

Lots of small towns, places you could walk off ship and into town. Viking always has tours that are included in overall cost plus several optional tours at additional cost.   Guides are locals and knowledgeable about area, including history. It was a nice 15-day cruise plus we spent time independently in Amsterdam and Budapest pre/post cruise. Lots of castles to see as you cruise the rivers. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  Dragon @6.1.1    2 weeks ago

That sounds fun! And lots of local cuisine, I hope

 
 
 
shona1
Professor Quiet
6.1.3  shona1  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1.2    2 weeks ago

Morning trouty...yes have heard very good reports on the Rhine cruises my cousin went on one a few years ago..

The only thing now is alot of the rivers the water levels are dropping and some of the ships can't go as far now and they have to bus you to destinations etc..hear that quite frequently..

A tourist complained on my cousin's cruise and chucked a wobbly over it..rabbitting on about expecting to sail to the destinations etc not bus it. They were warned before sailing and it is in the fine print...

In the end the cruise director turned around to her and just said..Madam, I am not God!!...

The sounds of silence followed..

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1.4  devangelical  replied to  shona1 @6.1.3    2 weeks ago
chucked a wobbly over it

... uh ..., huh?

 
 
 
shona1
Professor Quiet
6.1.5  shona1  replied to  devangelical @6.1.4    2 weeks ago

Arvo..spit the dummy, had a hissy fit, mad as a cut snake..lose the plot??

Not sure what you mob say for losing it.

Ahh I know the equivalent of a Karen..

 
 
 
devangelical
Professor Principal
6.1.6  devangelical  replied to  shona1 @6.1.5    2 weeks ago

freaked out, flipped out, lost their shit ...

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.7  Trout Giggles  replied to  shona1 @6.1.5    2 weeks ago

Hey! I got that one (wobbly)

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.8  Trout Giggles  replied to  shona1 @6.1.3    2 weeks ago

Well, ok...I'll take a bus if I can explore a castle and eat a lot of good food

 
 
 
shona1
Professor Quiet
6.1.9  shona1  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1.7    2 weeks ago

Morning..good one Trouty..you will speaking Aussie in no time..

As for Vangy...needs more Vegemite..🐨

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
6.1.10  Trout Giggles  replied to  shona1 @6.1.9    2 weeks ago

I like to watch Aussie TV shows

As for Vangy...needs more Vegemite..

LOL!

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
6.2  Freefaller  replied to  Dragon @6    2 weeks ago

River cruises can be very enjoyable, I did the Nile River about 20 years ago the history and sights were amazing.  The bazaars were definately less fun though, the vendors were relentless

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
7  JohnRussell    2 weeks ago

Record number of cruises. Record number of "leisure" flights. Thousands of dollars for concert tickets. People spend a lot of money on pricy face creams and the like. Gourmet food at the grocery store is a thing. Expensive clothes and gym shoes. Destination weddings. Air B and B.  People are spending a lot of money to make themselves feel good. 

Is the economy better than we think, or are people putting it all on their credit cards? 

 
 
 
Right Down the Center
Senior Guide
7.1  Right Down the Center  replied to  JohnRussell @7    2 weeks ago

[deleted][]

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.2  Trout Giggles  replied to  JohnRussell @7    2 weeks ago

We do vacays at VRBOs but pay cash

 
 
 
Sparty On
Professor Principal
7.3  Sparty On  replied to  JohnRussell @7    2 weeks ago
Is the economy better than we think, or are people putting it all on their credit cards? 

Charge It!

 
 
 
fineline
Freshman Silent
7.4  fineline  replied to  JohnRussell @7    2 weeks ago

My thoughts exactly, can't buy groceries or fuel, yet have resources for playtime. 

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.4.1  Trout Giggles  replied to  fineline @7.4    2 weeks ago

Priorities!

 
 
 
fineline
Freshman Silent
7.4.2  fineline  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.4.1    2 weeks ago

Yeah, the miracle of mass marketing. "I want it ALL and I want it NOW!

 
 
 
Freefaller
Professor Quiet
7.4.3  Freefaller  replied to  Trout Giggles @7.4.1    2 weeks ago

Hmmm lie on a beach drinking rum concoctions or eat.  Tough choice

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
Professor Principal
7.4.4  Trout Giggles  replied to  Freefaller @7.4.3    2 weeks ago

I'm going with mojitos. I don't need food that much

 
 

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