What used to be thought a kind of travel reserved for retirees and senior citizens is becoming increasingly popular among a totally different generation, with more Generation X and millennial travelers booking cruises in 2017. That is one of the predictions from Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) for 2017.
CLIA recently released an industry outlook of cruise trends, which estimates that an estimated 25.3 million passengers will set sail next year, up about 10 million from just a decade ago.
Likewise, next year will see 26 new ocean liners and river cruise ships make their maiden voyage, representing an investment of $6.8 billion in new vessels.
"From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to desires of today's travelers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world," said CLIA president and CEO Cindy D'Aoust in a statement.
And from 2017 to 2026, another 97 new cruise ships worth an estimated $53 billion are expected to hit the water.
Here's a snapshot of some of the cruise trends predicted for 2017:
- New generation
Cruising isn't just for grandparents anymore. Citing a recent study which showed that millennials and Generation X travelers rated cruises higher than land-based vacations and all-inclusive resorts, CLIA experts anticipate that younger generations will embrace cruise travel more than ever.
- Booking the old-fashioned way
Between 2015 and 2016, the use of travel agents increased nearly 80 percent, according to a report from the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker. CLIA experts expect that more and more cruisers will turn to the matchmaking services of travel agents next year.
- River cruises
River cruises have become increasingly popular for offering shorter voyages with more port-of-call options. Next year 13 new river cruise ships are on order, representing an increase of seven percent.
- More private islands
This year saw the historic crossing of the world's first luxury cruise ship through the Northwest Passage and the first cruise ship sailing between the US and Cuba in 50 years. In 2017, the cruise industry will try to entice travelers with more ports of call to private islands.
- Virgin cruisers
The cruise industry's growth stems from rising demand. In another survey, nearly half of respondents who have never boarded a cruise ship expressed interest in taking a cruise in the next three years, while 85 percent of repeat cruisers said the same.