Cruising is having a moment: World-class chefs are bringing their culinary magic to the water, onboard entertainment options are going way beyond the status quo, and expedition vessels are taking travelers to places once deemed inaccessible. The world is catching on to cruising’s popularity, too. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) predicts that 30 million passengers will set sail in 2019, up from 17.8 million a decade ago. Here, a few of the trends drawing them on board:
Your cell phone is your room key, and other smart technology upgrades.
Smartphone apps and wearable accessories loaded with passenger info are making processes such as embarkation and booking shore activities easier than ever. "We’ve definitely seen an uptick in smart tech," says David Andersen, an Irvine, California-based Virtuoso travel advisor. “The ship check-in process used to involve very long lines and a 10- to 15-minute conversation with a boarding agent. Now it’s much faster!”
Dinner menus are raising the bar.
Passengers want to experience culture through food, and cruise lines are delivering with more specialty and regionally influenced options. Onboard cooking classes, themed menus, and James Beard award-winning guest chefs let passengers dive into the culinary history of the regions they’re traveling through. Some lines have also forged more long-term partnerships with marquee chefs – including Nobu Matsuhisa and Thomas Keller – who are bringing their menus to special onboard outlets.