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Cruise travel is no longer a predominantly American affair. Cruise Lines International Association found that British and Irish travellers took around 1.7 million cruises in 2022, an increase of 479,000 from 2021. This is perhaps due to the more immersive and less disruptive nature of cruises, especially as airlines face a surge of cancellations and logistical nightmares. On a cruise, there’s no need to physically navigate crowded airports or face unexpected flight cancellations; sojourners can lay in a full-sized bed, take a dip in a pool, or even enjoy a restaurant’s offerings as the ship makes its way to a new port of call.
These changes came about with critical shifts in how people view work. Though the UK ranks 22nd in the Global Quality of Life index, searches for ‘digital nomad visas’ among Brits have gone up 311% from last year, and the 40-59 age group now accounts for 35% of digital nomads globally, which happens to be the primary demographic captured by cruising. On the other hand, in our “The Joy of Experiential Travel: Why Experiences Matter More Than Material Possessions” article, we outlined how more Millennials and Gen Z are living out the principles of creating lifetime travel memories and creating a new understanding of work-life balance where ‘life’ takes precedence. Anticipating these multi-generational shifts, various cruise liners have stepped up, providing in-depth, culturally immersive experiences that seek to turn traditional cruise travel on its head.
Cruises leading the charge
Cruises have a unique ability to suspend a traveller’s sense of disbelief – by covering more time and distance compared to land or air travel, one is less likely to shift out of ‘relaxation mode’ and into ‘commute mode’, facilitating a mindset that is genuinely conducive to vacationing. Explora Cruises incorporates this concept in their “Ocean State of Mind” mantra, where guests are encouraged to travel further, immerse deeper, and linger a little longer. Whether one’s itinerary is focused on the cultural gems of Western Europe or the crystal-clear oceans of the Caribbean, a wide array of curated pursuits awaits every traveller. From Canadian whale-watching excursions, encounters with an esteemed artist in Santorini, or in-country immersions that eschew the usual tourist spots, bespoke itineraries from six to 44 nights can be arranged to create a truly unique journey.
For its part, Oceania Cruises is expanding their offerings with ten new ports of call and an assortment of destination-rich itineraries, from New England to French Polynesia and Hawaii. In the latter, for example, ten- to eighteen-day itineraries allow vacationers to enjoy cultural encounters and pristine natural surroundings, all scheduled during the ideal months of August to October. Grand voyages feature a curated selection of extended evening stays and overnights, immersing guests more deeply. Lovers of the unconventional may meet their match in Holland America’s 2025 lineup, which includes unorthodox new hotspots such as Iberia, Iceland, and even the Holy Land. A 28-day crossing of the Arctic Circle will traverse 14 ports, from the fjords of Iceland to the North Cape and Greenland. The cruise line will allow passengers to combine itineraries for back-to-back immersive sailings seamlessly.
It’s clear that the cruise ship industry is ready for prolonged journeys, and with more offerings on the way, passengers can look forward to sea travel that is not only extensive but also truly transformative and unique.
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