What’s New in Cruising in 2024

Months-long world cruises, better food, more remote destinations, and luxury sailings designed with families in mind—these are the top cruise trends of 2024.

Large Royal Caribbean' ship viewed from ocean level

World cruises were further propelled into the spotlight when Royal Caribbean’s Ultimate World Cruise went viral on TikTok.

Courtesy of Josiah Weiss/Unsplash

Cruise ship itineraries in 2024 will span the globe like never before, on ships that are more environmentally friendly and luxurious than ever.

Cruisers are looking beyond the one-week itinerary, sometimes a lot more. Blockbuster, months-long world cruises are attracting both increased interest and attention—as those who are following along on TikTok the adventures of Royal Caribbean’s 274-night Ultimate World Cruise well know. Cruisers are getting younger, too. Whether due to social media or other factors, more Millennials and Gen-X travelers are cruising in 2024 than in the past, even if they have never cruised before, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

With cruise lines putting a stronger emphasis on exploring more far-flung destinations, offering better, more sustainable food options, and courting families even on more upscale ships, it’s going to be an exciting year out on the high seas—regardless of your age. More than 300 ships will sail the world’s oceans in 2024, according to CLIA, and these include the first cruise ship ever to be outfitted with engines ready for green methanol, and the new largest cruise ship in the world, Royal Caribbean’s Icon of the Seas, able to carry more than 7,000 passengers.

Here are five cruise trends to watch in 2024.

World cruises become even more popular

Royal Caribbean’s current Ultimate World Cruise on the 2,490-passenger Serenade of the Seas may be the current star of TikTok, but it is hardly the only choice for cruisers looking to see the world on an epic, multimonth sailing. World cruises continue to sell out well in advance, so plan now for 2025, 2026, and beyond. Oceania Cruises offers popular 180-day itineraries; Cunard’s traditional world cruises on real ocean liners are legendary for their posh British style; and ultra-luxury lines such as Seabourn, Silversea, and Regent Seven Seas Cruises deliver the world with a side of champagne and caviar. Or check out Viking’s world cruises, which include excursions in every port and are value priced from about $55,000 per person.

King George Falls in Kimberley, Australia, a waterfall cascading down tiered red-rock canyon

Kimberley in Western Australia is among the sought-after cruise destinations of 2024.

Photo by Shutterstock

Expeditions explore even farther

As travelers continue their post-COVID quest to embrace new experiences, the expedition cruise market is booming. Cruisers are getting more adventurous, and new destinations are emerging. HX Expeditions (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions), for instance, just finished its first season of sailings combining Senegal, the Cabo Verde islands, Gambia, and Guinea-Bissau’s rarely visited Bissagos islands, with additional sailings in West Africa planned for later this year and next. Beyond increasingly popular Arctic, Antarctica, and Greenland trips, destinations such as Madagascar, the Seychelles, and Indonesia’s Raja Ampat are also becoming more common stops on the cruise map. Kimberley in Western Australia is a 2024 hot spot, with more ships than ever bringing cruisers to the region’s red-rock cliffs, waterfalls, and crocodiles. In Antarctica, Lindblad Expeditions is the latest company with a seven-night fly-in and cruise option that lets you skip crossing the notoriously rough Drake Passage.

Chef Masahuru Morimoto, in black shirt and apron, slices fresh salmon while two other cooks watch.

As part of Holland America Line’s Global Fresh Fish program, chef Masahuru Morimoto is hosting pop-up restaurants onboard HAL ships showcasing fresh, locally caught seafood.

Courtesy of Holland America Line

Food-driven experiences (on land and sea)

Cruise lines are more focused than ever on bringing sustainable products onboard from the places they are visiting. Holland America Line, for instance, recently launched a Global Fresh Fish program, with 100 percent fresh sustainable seafood being incorporated fleetwide. As part of the program, the line’s “fresh fish ambassador,” Masahuru Morimoto of Iron Chef fame, is hosting pop-up restaurants onboard, where guests can order a crispy fried whole fish with a side of wasabi mashed potatoes, among other featured menu items. For its West Africa cruises on the 280-passenger MS Spitsbergen, HX Expeditions has brought a chef from Togo on the vessel, where he’s preparing such local dishes as jollof rice. Food tours on shore have become increasingly popular, too. British line Cunard will launch its 3,000-passenger Queen Anne this spring with such exclusive shore excursions as a Norwegian “fjord safari” to visit a goat cheese farm.

Focus on the environment

As the cruise industry pursues net-zero emissions by 2050, there’s a huge push to invest in and use more renewable fuel sources. More than three dozen trials with biofuels made from such items as manure and vegetable oil took place on ships in 2023. There will be more in 2024. With a focus on better energy efficiency, and using onboard desalinization plants for water, cruise ships and their operations are becoming more sustainable and efficient every year. Of the 11 major new oceangoing ships in 2024, six are powered by liquified natural gas (LNG), considered the cleanest fossil fuel. Most new ships can use shore power hookups without running engines in ports. Significantly, in 2024 the world will see the first cruise ship able to operate on green methanol when it becomes available at scale. For now, the Mein Schiff 7, part of German line TUI, will operate on low sulfur fuel. Future methanol-ready ships are on order for companies such as Disney, Celebrity, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

The kids club on "Explora I," with a pool table, faux trees, comfy loungers, TV screens, and ocean views

Explora I is designed to feel like a luxury land-based resort, complete with a kids club.

Courtesy of Ivan Sarfatti/Explora Journeys

Luxury with kids in mind

When it comes to cruising, family travel is getting more love, especially multigenerational family travel. Luxury line Explora Journeys, which will launch a second 922-passenger ship Explora II this year, has a staffed children’s program where activities include a focus on marine education, plus suites designed for families (and even amenities that include kid-size bathrobes and slippers). Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s second ship, the 456-passenger, LNG-operated Ilma, debuts in 2024 as well with features that include a Ritz Kids program (for a fee). And when Disney Cruise Line’s upcoming 4,000-passenger, LNG-fueled ship Disney Treasure launches this year, it will have a restaurant themed around the Disney movie Coco, a live show based on Moana, and a pair of extravagant, two-bedroom suites, one inspired by Aladdin and the other by the Jungle Book.

Fran Golden is an award-winning travel writer who has sailed on some 170 ships to destinations around the world.
From Our Partners
Sign up for our newsletter
Join more than a million of the world’s best travelers. Subscribe to the Daily Wander newsletter.
More from AFAR