4 CRUISE TRENDS WE’RE EXCITED FOR IN 2023
From luxury newcomers to once-in-a-lifetime expeditions through Asia and sails to the Arctic, here’s what to look out for:
Cruising is back. And what repeat guests are remembering and newcomers are learning is that there’s no better way to travel. And as the industry is gearing up for its biggest year ever, there have been some major advancements, exciting new itineraries, innovative and fresh shore excursions, and more.
Here, we share the latest trends as well as some tips and tricks to keep you in the know
1. VOYAGES ARE GOING FURTHER
With more than two years of missed travel opportunities, the rise of remote work, and a collective human desire to make our moments count more than ever, it’s no surprise that grand voyages – sailings longer than 21 days – are growing in popularity.
COVID-19 saw a massive re-evaluation of life quality, so a great experience is critical. When Holland America Line launched its 73-day grand Africa voyage this year, it sold out so fast that the company created another one for 2023, which will take passengers from the beaches of Zanzibar to historic Petra.
Even river cruises, traditionally a week-long, are offering longer sailings: After its inaugural 2023 Seven River Journey Through Europe trips sold out almost instantly, Am Waterways created two more of its 46-night itineraries and two 49-night itineraries, and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises will launch its nine-country, 47-day Rivers of the World offering next year.
2. GETTING MORE WHEN YOU STEP ON SHORE
With passengers craving more meaningful ways to explore, cruise lines are sharpening their partnerships and extending the time guests spend on land.
It’s now about how to make your travel experience exclusive, unique, and local. This year, river-cruising giant Uniworld began bundling ship and train experiences with boutique rail-tour company Golden Eagle Luxury Trains on its Danube sailings.
Guests ride the train inland through Central Europe for five days before hopping on the ship in Vienna; Uniworld has added two more departures for 2023.
Next year, Ponant and Smithsonian Journeys will offer co-branded sailings through Panama, where Smithsonian experts like climate specialist Steve Paton will guide passengers through hard-to-reach areas like the San Blas archipelago. Regent Seven Seas Cruises, which has been seeking ways to extend the guest experience before and after sailings, plans several free add-ons for 2023, including three days with exclusive access to boutique wine estates around Cape Town for passengers on cruises originating in South Africa.
There is also great news for those wanting to spend more time in their departure ports. Many lines now include a hotel room the night before a sailing in their rate. It’s a perk that lets passengers explore a little more.
3. LUXURY IS AT A NEW LEVEL
Many lines – Ponant, Silversea – have a reputation for offering a champagne-and-caviar experience on board. But two new players are upping the game for luxury at sea. Think all suites, more time in port, and food packed with Michelin-style pizzazz.
Hotel titan The Ritz-Carlton has long been in the sailing space with its Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, but this October, it added the high-touch sophistication of the 298-passenger Evrima. Imagine the 624-foot vessel as a floating Ritz-Carlton resort sailing the Caribbean, the Americas, and the Med with a personal concierge assigned to every suite and a splurge-worthy tasting menu created by chef Sven Elverfeld of Germany’s three-Michelin-starred Aqua.
Next May, Explora Journeys, a new cruise concept from the Aponte family, founders of MSC Cruises, will launch the Explora 1, which will offer oceanfront suites and private terraces to all 900 passengers. A major focus will be guest well-being, a response to new needs emerging from the pandemic and other societal changes.
4. RETURN TO ASIA
With travel spending up and two years of pent-up demand, Asia, which is a longer haul and a bigger investment, is on the front burner. The continent began reopening to international cruises in July 2022, when Royal Caribbean arrived in Malaysia, and the big lines have been moving in or expanding there since.
Japan has been especially popular; in addition to the new Ponant sailings in the Seto Inland Sea launching in May 2023, Regent and Silversea are both offering new itineraries that circumnavigate the island nation, and Holland America Line will redeploy its Westerdam to Japan after it sailed out COVID-19 in Australia.
Singapore expects to hit its pre-COVID passenger numbers in 2023, thanks in part to new itineraries like Viking’s 15-day Bali-to-Singapore voyage, while RC’s Spectrum of the Seas added two new 12-night itineraries for next year that visit countries like Vietnam and Thailand.
Contents per CNTraveler.com