The cruise industry has come a long way over the last few years. With ships adding more and more features, and ships selling out it begs the question: are we at peak cruise?
Peak Oil, Peak Travel… Peak Cruise?
I use the term “Peak Cruise” to suggest that it might not ever improve beyond this point for consumers. The original use of “peak” in connection with common vernacular stems from “Peak Oil” defined as:
Modern aircraft development more or less reached this in either the 1970s with the Concorde or the mid-2000s with fuel efficiency improvements. The new supersonic Boom aircraft in development is not faster than the Concorde, rather just lighter, slower, and more fuel efficient with a quieter suspected sonic boom. Boeing has stated it doesn’t intend to produce a new mid-size jet because advances have not been sufficiently made to make the aircraft strategically beneficial.
But Peak Cruise? I’d argue, yes. Despite building bigger and bigger ships with still more features – cruises are selling out to the extent that when announced, the Icon of the Seas led to Royal Caribbean’s biggest sales day in the company’s history. There’s not a lot more to add to the ships themselves, the destinations, and the brands – is this the peak?
Better Ships, More Features
I mentioned that Royal Caribbean announced Icon of the Seas to huge fanfare. Why? It has a waterpark at sea. Dual racing waterslides, four-person tube slides, infinity pools, a plank that has guests hanging out over 100′ above the water, two story suites (with plastic slide from the kid’s room to the living room), wrap around balcony’s with floor-to-ceiling windows – just take a look:
Ritz-Carlton released a yacht line that translates its attention to detail and high quality finishes to the sea. That model appears to be growing Explora is from the scions of MSC and its ambitious ships are changing what a cruise ship can be. We’ve covered Seabourn’s Venture Antarctica Expeditions on this blog because of its all-balcony, all-suite, butler service approach to one of the hardest to reach places on earth. My travel agency has sold out nearly all of the available allotted bookings on those ships even at a minimum price point of $9,000. Why? Because the product is perfect, but so is the destination. It’s the journey and the destination, not one or the other.
I mentioned before the family cruise ship, Icon but looking at some of the more exotic, adult-focused products, they’ve really thought of everything. For example, Seabourn has a special landing room where travelers returning from Zodiacs visiting penguins or seals on Antarcitca first warm up in a lounge with a fireplace that’s designed to welcome guests back onboard something like the way a ski-in chalet might.
Submarines are another captivating addition. Even the finest hotels rarely offer the ability to see underwater sealife with the same clarity and comfort as what is now available at sea.
What More Can They Add?
The family cruise ships have everything that kids and adults could want, but I am struggling to find features that are lacking from cruise ships that hotels offer. One area I thought might fit the bill is a plunge pool, but then I found several including the Celebrity Edge that offer plunge pools in high-end suites, or even Viking’s sauna with floor-to-ceiling windows on the edge of the ship.
If anything, it would be nice to see more of a luxury concentration in the Caribbean market rather than just waterslides, but Virgin Voyages intends to upend the all-adult Caribbean market.
Despite adding more features, serving almost every destination, cruise lines can’t seem to go wrong at the moment and I can’t really find an area where they can improve from here. Whether it’s a Princess Cruise to Alaska, a Viking cruise on the Mekong through Ha Long Bay and Cambodia, a theme park on water at Royal Caribbean, or Seabourn to Antarctica, clients continue to book sailings at an incredible rate.
What do you think? Are we at peak cruise? Is there a feature, destination, or product that you think should be on a ship that’s missing?