Jonny Drubel, a Protravel advisor based in Los Angeles, used to work in entertainment and now runs a successful travel agency, TravelWell. (He also is very active on Instagram, with 176,000 followers engaging with his travels.) Cruising makes up a large part of his business, so he needs to stay on top of trends, new itineraries, and new luxury offerings. We talked about what’s next for 2020.
Expedition cruising is going for Wow
Expedition ships are in the pipeline for Crystal, Seabourn, Viking Ocean, and SeaDream, to name a few. These ships will hold roughly 200 passengers, so most in the industry are calling them yachts rather than cruise ships. They won’t have waterslides and 10 dining venues like their larger mass-market competitors, but they will have amenities that will impress even seasoned travelers. Crystal has a helicopter to bring passengers to shore on the Crystal Endeavor, for instance, and Seabourn has a submarine that will take guests to the depths of the Arctic on the Seabourn Venture.
These expedition ships will allow cruise lines to bring guests to remote places without sacrificing luxury.
Luxury cruise lines are spending more time in port
Luxury cruise ships are not just spending winters in the Caribbean and summers in the Mediterranean. Cruise lines have realized that passengers want not only to spend time discovering new corners of the world but also to spend more time in destinations. Overnights—sometimes two, even three nights—are more common on cruise itineraries now in places such as Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, and Haifa [Jerusalem].
A few itineraries that showcase this trend well:
- Rio de Janeiro to Buenos Aires: two days each in Rio, Punta del Este, and Buenos Aires
- Athens to Dubai: stopping for more than 1 night in several locations on a 49-night itinerary
Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection
Cruises are going new places
Cruises are exploring the Chilean fjords and the islands of southern Japan, and even circumnavigating Iceland. It seems like the opportunities and itinerary choices are endless.
Cruises are offering top culinary experiences like never before
Cruises are pulling together experiences that can only be found on the ship, luring in travelers that have “been there and done that.” There is no hotel that allows guests to do a full day of diving at the Great Barrier Reef, then offer Nobu as an evening snack, as they can on Crystal’s Nobu Matsuhisa culinary cruise. Seabourn has partnered with Thomas Keller, which has been a big hit. You can have Thomas Keller cuisine for dinner while sailing down the Amazon from Manaus to Iquitos. There is also the opportunity to glamp in the Galàpagos on the top deck of Celebrity Flora—they turn cabanas into a five-star open-air tent and provide a private stargazing tour, followed by a sunrise breakfast in the morning.
Favorite itineraries for 2020
- Reykjavík to Oslo on Regent Seven Seas Explorer: Iceland and Norway are both great destinations to see by ship. While Iceland has some nice properties, there are only a few true five-star properties, so a luxury ship is a great way to travel. And I would tell anyone that the best way to see Norway is by ship. Norway is gorgeous, but if done by land, you are in transit a majority of the time. By ship, you unpack once, see the fjords from your private balcony, and don’t wake up worrying about catching the train or ferry.
- Baltra to San Cristobal on Silversea’s Silver Origin: With Silver Origin [Silversea’s purpose-built Galàpagos ship], travelers finally have the ability to see the islands in five-star luxury. The ship will have everything well-traveled guests expect to have on vacation [full gym, spa services, top dining options], while enjoying small group landings led by seasoned guides.
- Tokyo to Taipei on Crystal Endeavor: Japan continues to be a hot destination. While many are drawn to Japan’s futuristic cities and high-speed trains, few visitors go to the remote, culturally rich islands off Japan’s southern coast. Passengers will embark on Crystal Endeavor in Tokyo and visit ports including Uwajima, Amami, and Ishigaki. The voyage ends with a full day and overnight in Taipei, Taiwan.
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