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*Information repurposed from Travel Market Report

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released its 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, and the future is bright.

“It is without question that the cruise industry continues on a growth trajectory, gaining in consumer interest and creating a positive impact on the global economy,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA, in a press release.

“The 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook is a way for us to keep a finger on the pulse of the global cruise industry and its impact on the global economy and identify new travel trends that will influence cruise travel in the future.”

According to the report, 27.2 million passengers are expected to cruise in 2018. That’s up from the estimated 25.8 million of 2017 and confirmed 24.7 million during 2016. In fact, over a span of five years between 2011 and 2016, there was a 20.5 percent increase.

Poised to meet the growing demand are another 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships coming in 2018 from CLIA lines.

Also looking back to 2016, the association reports that industry expenditures generated $126 billion in overall global output and $41 billion worth of income for over a million full-time equivalent employees.

Managing Director of CLIA Australasia, Joel Katz, added, in the release, “With the world’s highest market penetration for cruise, Australasia’s cruise industry is a key contributor to the strong global growth. Cruising generates significant economic activity and value through the employment of thousands of people as well as economic benefits that flow to businesses and regional communities far beyond our ships and ports.”

CLIA has predicted the top nine trends to keep an eye out for in 2018:

1. All Budgets Will Cruise

People in nearly all income brackets are taking cruise vacations according to the soon-to-be-released 2018 Cruise Travel Report, and it’s anticipated that the behavior will continue.

Even though the market—compared to other holidays—does tend to appeal more to affluent consumers, 33 percent of those who have cruised in the past three years have a household income less than $80,000.

2. Transformational Cruise Travel

The word transformational is becoming more important as cruise travelers seek experiences such as cultural immersion, “voluntourism” and extreme adventures that will provide greater accomplishments. Examples include trying regional cuisine, visiting private homes, swimming with sharks in South Africa, riding a Harley Davidson in Alaska and discovering penguins in the Arctic.

3. Sustainability at Sea

Sustainable tourism is another growing focus as cruisers can participate in recycling and waste management directly on and off the ship as well as positively affecting the environment and having a social impact abroad.

4. Millennials Take to the River

Now that river cruising has proven popular, millennials are taking notice of the market as a means to get closer to the action for the ideal “Instagram moment.” After all, pics or it didn’t happen.

5. Skip-Gen Cruising

While multigenerational cruising is a favorite way to travel, so-called “skip-generation” trips are becoming a sub-trend. These are when grandparents and grandchildren take a cruise sans the parents for a unique bonding experience.

6. Travelers Warm to Chilly Destinations

The Caribbean is definitely open for business, but a greater interest in the colder regions of the Baltics, Canada, Alaska and Antarctica is also expected. These destinations are available for such awe-inspiring activities as penguin watching and ice fishing.

7. Healthy Doses

Wellness is another facet of cruising that is picking up steam as travelers look to better their health onboard. Ways to do so include tending to the mind and body with expert seminars, custom fitness programs, stress management and spa services. Special menus are dedicated to certain dietary needs like diabetic-friendly or plant-based.

Healthy living theme cruises even extend to Weight Watchers voyages and more.

8. Smart Travel Technology

The latest technologies are being employed by cruise lines to make the guest experience much more enjoyable and easy to manage. Wearable solutions such as keychains, bracelets or necklaces are both personalized and seamless as they interact with shipboard sensors. Using the tech, guests may be able to do things from turn on cabin lighting to clear security.

9. Tapping Travel Agents

As always, travel agents will remain a vital part of the equation in planning the perfect cruise vacation for clients as demand for such services holds steady. Ease of planning, valued expertise and affordability are among the factors driving consumers to travel professionals.