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“From photographing wildlife on a safari, to walking the Camino de Santiago,” says Lorraine Whittemore, Cruise Planners franchise owner in Danielson, CT, “travelers are requesting deep, life-changing, memory-making experiences.” And they’re finding them via cruise vessels on both oceans and rivers, she notes. “Try traveling deep into fjords and even to the Arctic Circle with Hurtigruten. Or catch your own salmon in Alaska and have the chef prepare it for your dinner on a Princess ship.”

Indeed, the search for meaningful memories and bucket-list destinations ranks among the top trends in today’s cruise industry. Also trending is an ever-expanding lineup of luxuries sure to lure your cruise clients, and a similarly growing slate of immersive activities with appeal for assorted age groups, from kids to retirees to Millennials.

Carnival Cruise Line offers sailings to Cuba.

Hot Destinations
“We are seeing a deepening of interest in places that inspire adventure and may require physical activity, and experiences that introduce cultures and local people,” Whittemore continues. “We see a great interest in exploring Asia via river cruise where the traveler can have the best of both worlds—a lovely experience on the ship plus the opportunity to visit ancient temples. “Another popular destination is Iceland—hiking waterfalls, exploring ice caves, soaking in hot springs.”

“Our Around Iceland itineraries have been extremely hot over the last few years,” says Steve Simao, Windstar’s director of sales, “so we’re introducing more itineraries in the region in 2018, taking our guests farther north above the Arctic Circle. Also newsy is our Secrets of the Faroe, Shetland & Orkney Islands. Difficult to get to, the remote islands are perfectly suited to exploration by small ship. Windstar is the only line to offer a 7-day journey to these wild landscapes, with access to Shetland ponies, Atlantic Puffins, and the laird of a castle.”

One of the most compelling itineraries on the horizon is Cuba, and Fathom was Carnival Corporation’s first line to sail to the country’s sun-washed ports, notes the company’s Roger Frizzell, senior v.p. and chief communications officer.

“Fathom’s sailings to Cuba were extremely successful, but we decided to ultimately move to the larger ships in our fleets from both Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line. Holland America, our third line to sail to Cuba, makes its first sailing Dec. 22—a 12-day holiday cruise aboard Veendam—and we have requested approval for our other lines.”

The Sweet Life
“Travelers in the luxury market expect service that lives up to the price tag,” says Michael Graham, Cruise Planners franchise owner in Myrtle Beach, SC. “The true value of the luxury experience is showcased in excellent food, phenomenal service, and pampering in both surroundings and amenities. Lines such as Uniworld and Regent Seven Seas pride themselves in anticipating and surpassing guest expectations.”

Tops on the ultra-luxury scale is Silversea, which launched Silver Muse in April. The line’s new flagship features the innovative Zagara Beauty Spa concept that encourages guests to create their own spa experience, such as in the Mood Room where music, video, and lighting are personalized. Other elegant offerings range from Savoir Beds’ handmade mattresses to a fresh production with an operatic theme—a collaboration with London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra—that will premiere this month and roll out on the stages of Silversea’s five ocean ships next year.

Then there’s Silver Muse’s new library, housed in the Arts Cafe, a showcase for paintings and sculptures from around the world. Points out Barbara Muckermann, the line’s chief marketing officer, “The new Arts Cafe is the ideal space for kicking back with a book, enjoying a cocktail, or catching up with friends over coffee.”

Deluxe wellness features are spotlighted by Oceania Cruises, which is introducing a new array of complimentary options at sea.  “Just as we’ve done with Canyon Ranch Spa Cuisine, and the destination experiences offered by our Wellness Tours Inspired by Canyon Ranch,” says Bob Binder, Oceania’s president & CEO, “Oceania and Canyon Ranch are bringing a unique combination of rejuvenation, personal discovery, and indulgence to our guests as they travel to the most exotic locales around the globe.”

Come One, Come All
Multi-gen cruise sales continue to soar, and lines are welcoming them with more family-friendly staterooms plus more activities and entertainment for all ages. Cruise Planners franchise owner Carol Matulonis, based in Ft. Pierce, FL, points to Royal Caribbean as her “go-to for multi-generational trips. Each ship is truly its own city, with Broadway productions, water and ice shows, and specialty dining. What’s incredible is that activities are based more on personality than age, so while a teenager in one group may want to try out the FlowRider, that may also be the favorite activity of a grandparent in another group.”

Continues Matulonis, “Sailing the Galapagos Island with Celebrity Cruises is also a fabulous multi-generational trip, both active and immersive. From the youngest children to the oldest adults, they’re in awe witnessing sea lions jumping in the air and giant tortoises moseying around.”

Then there are the millennials and Generation X, which, according to a recent study cited by CLIA, are embracing cruise travel more than ever before.

“Overall, the age range on our river cruises has dropped significantly over the past few years,” says Kristin Karst, executive v.p. and co-owner of AmaWaterways. “Major reasons are our wine-themed cruises and the fact we were the first river cruise line to introduce biking and hiking options. The relationships developed with Backroads and Adventures by Disney have also helped to attract a younger clientele of first-time river cruisers.”

In 2018, AmaWaterways—set to launch its 20th ship, AmaLea—will offer more than 50 wine-themed cruises, and also roll out its new Wellness Program to additional
vessels. Debuting on all European itineraries will be Sip and Sail, a sure-to-be-a-hit complimentary cocktail hour for guest gatherings before dinner.

Uniworld—its S.S. Joie de Vivre launched in March—beckons ages 21-to-45 with its new U by Uniworld brand, set to bow in April 2018. On board, clients can shop among the likes of landscape painting with a glass of wine, and classes in cooking and mixology; on shore, they can dive into white-water rafting and trendy nightspots.

Says Ellen Bettridge, the line’s president and CEO, “Our motto, ‘No request too large, no detail too small,’ comes to life in every interaction. We never tire of going above and beyond to create extraordinary experiences both on board and on shore. Education is important, as we want agents to be able to match our ships to their clients’ personalities and interests.”

Contact Information
Adventures by Disney:
Carnival Cruise Line:
Celebrity Cruises:
Holland America Line:
Oceania Cruises:
Princess Cruises:
Regent Seven Seas:
Royal Caribbean International:
Silversea Cruises:
Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection:
Windstar Cruises: