Skip to main content

15 trends in cruising you should know about


Cruising remains a favored choice for travelers seeking a memorable vacation experience, as they offer a unique blend of complimentary amenities, exploration, and relaxation. As the travel industry continues to evolve, the trends shaping the cruise world do as well, reflecting changing consumer preferences and technological advancements. 

Every year, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) releases its "State of the Cruise Industry Report," which provides insight into the current trends, facts, and forecasts regarding the industry. 

From an increase in solo travel to a wider array of itineraries, here are 15 industry trends you should keep in mind if you're planning an upcoming cruise vacation. 

Read more: 2024 Cruise Travel Trends: Bookings, Value, & Destinations

Younger generations are the future of cruise


The demand for cruising is at an all-time high, with cabins selling out further in advance. 

During Royal Caribbean Group's earnings call on February 1, 2024, Jason Liberty, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, said, "...while our capacity is up 8.5% year over year, we have less inventory available to book in 2024 than we did a year ago for 2023 and half as many staterooms left in [the first quarter]."

Demand, however, relies on interest. According to the CLIA's 2023 State of the Industry Report, 88% of Millennials and 86% of Gen-X travelers who have cruised before say they plan to hit the high seas again, indicating that the demand won't decrease anytime soon. In fact, the enthusiasm for cruising amongst younger generations, particularly Millennials, suggests a promising future for the industry. 

The 2024 State of the Industry Report revealed that 46 is the average age of cruisers. Moreover, 36% of passengers are under the age of 40. 

Read more: How to save money on a cruise: 23 money-saving tips

More interest than ever among Millennials and Gen-X travelers to take their first cruise

Carnival Tail

From the convenience to variety of destinations, onboard amenities, and more, cruising is becoming more appealing to those who have yet to step foot on one of the floating cities, too. 

In fact, 73% of people who have never cruised said that they would consider taking one. Millennials showed the most interest, with 77% of respondents claiming they would consider settling sail in the future. Gen-X followed suit at 73%. The 2024 report revealed that 27% of cruisers in the past two years are new-to-cruise. 

Before you jump onboard (literally), though, take some time to research the different cruise lines and ships, as they're not designed equally. Adults seeking a more upscale vacation that emphasizes unique ports of call may prefer sailing with Celebrity Cruises, Princess Cruises, or Holland America Line, whereas those who want a cruise line and ship to appease a multi-generational family vacation will want to look into Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival. 

Read more: 28 first time cruise tips that really work

To attract more first-time cruisers and meet the needs of repeat cruisers, cruise lines are offering both shorter and longer cruise itineraries

Utopia of the Seas

In July 2024, Royal Caribbean is launching its sixth Oasis Class ship, Utopia of the Seas. Sailing out of Port Canaveral, Florida, this brand-new vessel will exclusively sail 3- and 4-night cruises to The Bahamas, including Perfect Day at CocoCay, marking the first time a new Royal Caribbean ship enters the short cruise market

Similarly, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean's upscale sister brand, has begun sailing to the award-winning private island in The Bahamas, offering regular 2- to 5-night cruises to The Bahamas. Whether you're new to cruising or don't have enough PTO for a weeklong cruise, you'll find plenty of short sailings. Plus, with many taking place on newer ships, you no longer have to sacrifice amenities and modern upgrades for the sake of a shorter voyage. 

Of course, frequent cruisers can tire quickly of Nassau, which is why you'll find lines offer unique sailings worldwide. Fancy Asia? Look into one of Celebrity's year-round cruises aboard Celebrity Millennium. If money is no object, consider a world cruise that will effortlessly transport you to some of the most exotic places on Earth. Whatever you want to get out of your cruise vacation, there's the perfect itinerary for you, whether it's a short weekend getaway, multi-week African safari, relaxing Transatlantic voyage, or extensive European adventure.

Read more: Why a two-night cruise is the perfect getaway

Solo cruise travel is on the rise


Since January 2023, I've been on five solo cruises, ranging from 4-night sailings to The Bahamas to weeklong voyages through the Mediterranean. Though traveling with others remains my preferred way to explore the world, I never hesitate to book a cruise by myself, as it gives me more flexibility regarding the date, itinerary, and activities. 

According to the 2023 State of the Industry Report, cruise lines are responding to the increased demand for solo travel by increasing the number of cabins available for single travelers on newer and older vessels. 

Norwegian Cruise Line, for instance, announced in October 2023 that they'd be adding three new categories of solo cabins to their fleet, effectively increasing the options and available number of staterooms available to those traveling by themselves. 

Today, 8-13% of cruise travelers are traveling solo, with 10% embarking from U.S. ports and 13% from Canadian ports. 

Read more: The pros and cons of cruising alone

There is an acceleration of environmental technologies and practices present on cruise ships


The cruise industry is aiming towards net-zero carbon cruising by 2020. To accomplish this, there are numerous environmentally friendly programs and initiatives in place. 96% of CLIA cruise ships, for instance, have low friction hull coatings and air lubrication systems that help increase fuel efficiency by nearly 10%. 

Moreover, there are 38 LNG-powered ships expected to be in service by 2028. Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is one of the cleanest-burning marine fuels and helps to reduce a cruise ship's carbon emissions by roughly 30%. 

Icon of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, was Royal Caribbean International's first ship powered by LNG. The Icon Class ship joined over 15 other LNG-powered ships at sea, including AIDAsol, the first-ever ship powered by LNG fuel. 

Read more: Cruise industry announces positive momentum for cruise ships and new environmental goals

The commitment of cruise travelers and potential new-to-cruise travelers to the environment is on the rise


Cruise lines aren't the only ones embracing the environment. The 2023 State of the Industry Report indicates that 50% of current and potential cruisers are more committed to making travel decisions based on environmental impacts compared to three years ago. 

From large-scale efforts like investing in advanced wastewater treatment systems to eliminating the use of single-use plastic straws onboard ships, the heightened environmental consciousness among travelers highlights the importance of sustainability efforts within the cruise industry. 

Cruise lines are increasingly offering environmental education and sustainable tour experiences for passengers

MSC Foundation kiosk

These initiatives provide passengers with insights into environmental challenges and empower them to make informed choices to minimize their impact while cruising. As a result, 84% of passengers say they're more aware of the responsible nature of cruise travel and the importance of the environment.  

Onboard MSC ships, for instance, you may run into an area dedicated to the MSC Foundation, MSC's non-profit organization that focuses on environmental conversation, community support, education, and energy efficiency. 

Additionally, Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, the cruise line's private island in The Bahamas, was a former industrial site that they restored into a tropical paradise. In fact, they've helped native species return to the island!

The number of accessible cabins across the cruise line fleet is increasing


Growing up, my mother dealt with multiple health issues. What began as a default vacation option became our favorite way to travel. It was easy for her to navigate the ship and access the amenities without worrying about long walks. Plus, she'd often stay on the ship while my dad, sister, and I went ashore for an excursion. By the time we returned, she was excited for a night together exploring everything onboard. 

Now, cruise lines have acknowledged that they're a convenient option for those with limited mobility. In addition to more accessible cabins that feature more living space and larger ensuite bathrooms, some lines, namely Carnival Cruise Line, have strived to become more sensory-friendly. 

All of Carnival's ships have been certified as sensory-inclusive by Kulture City, a leading nonprofit dedicated to accessibility and inclusion for individuals with sensory and invisible disabilities. On embarkation day, you can visit Guest Services to check out a sensory kit that includes noise-canceling headphones, fidget tools, a visual feeling thermometer, and more to help make the cruise experience more enjoyable to those who may otherwise become easily overstimulated. 

Moreover, cruise lines have begun offering accessible shore excursions, with over 100 excursions available in ports of call. 45% of travelers booked one of these accessible excursions within the past year. 

Younger cruise travelers—from Gen Z to Millennials to Gen X—turn to travel advisors to book their cruises more so than any other generation

travel agent

These passengers rely on the expertise of travel agents 50% more than Traditionalists and Baby Boomers. Not only can they provide exclusive rates that aren't shown on the cruise line's website, but they can also advise you on shore excursions, cabins, and more to help meet your specific needs. 

First-time cruisers will greatly benefit from working with a travel agent, as they can help you decide what line, ship, and itinerary is best for you, whether you're a retired individual seeking a quiet adults-only trip or a soon-to-be college graduate hoping to celebrate your major achievement. 

If you're traveling with a large family, they can help manage everyone's bookings and reserve specialty restaurants and shore excursions, leaving you with less to worry about in the months and weeks leading up to your sailing. 

Read more: 5 Reasons to Book With a Travel Agent for Your Next Cruise

Cruise holidays appeal to those looking for multi-generational travel options


Over the years, cruising has evolved to cater to multigenerational families to provide the ultimate family vacation, and today, 28% of cruisers are sailing with family members representing at least two generations. 

Icon of the Seas, for instance, was designed to offer thrills for younger travelers, as well as places for grandparents to relax. After racing down the water slides at the Category 6 Water Park, families can gather at Basecamp for a bite to eat to talk about the morning's adventures. Royal Caribbean also spent time designing cabins suitable for larger families, with 80% of staterooms onboard able to accommodate three or more guests. 

Even if you aren't cruising on the world's largest vessel, today's cruise ships have a wide array of activities to appease the youngest and oldest sailors onboard. Children, for example, can enjoy the complimentary youth programming while adults spend time on the adults-only sun deck or indulge in a child-free meal at one of the upscale specialty restaurants. 

Read more: 10 Best Cruise Lines for Families

The CLIA-member cruise line fleet of ships is projected to exceed 300 ocean-going vessels for the first time in 2024


There's no shortage of cruise ships available to meet the needs of your next vacation. According to the CLIA, the increase in cruise ships and itineraries is well-timed to meet the strong demand for cruise travel. In fact, cruise travel reached 107% of 2019 levels in 2023. Forecasts are predicting that by 2027, cruising will grow to welcome nearly 40 million passengers. 

Though there are numerous ships to choose from, with the number continuing to increase, don't wait to book your next vacation. Inventory is selling out further in advance, despite more cabins available than before! 

Read more: New Cruise Ships On Order

Traveler interest in booking an expedition cruise is higher than ever


Mega-ships can only visit so many destinations. In fact, you won't find an Icon Class ship sailing anywhere than the Caribbean. If you're hoping to cross off some amazing bucket-list travel experiences, you'll have to turn on smaller ships. 

Expedition vessels, some of the smallest of them all, have become more popular over the years, with the number of guests sailing on expedition cruises more than doubling between 2016 and 2022. Additionally, search results for expedition cruises to Antarctica increased by 51% in 2022 compared to 2019. Though mainstream cruise lines sail to Antarctica, you cannot step ashore unless you're on a smaller vessel due to local restrictions designed to help preserve the fragile environment. 

Similarly, you won't find any 100,000 or 200,000 gross registered ton ships sailing to the Galapagos. Instead, you'll have to board one of Celebrity's year-round expedition cruises or look for another upscale line that offers voyages on smaller vessels. 

Read more: I cruised to Antarctica in a cabin that costs $1340 per night

Cruise lines are offering more immersive cruise travel opportunities to passengers


Though you get to see multiple places during a single vacation, one of the cons of cruising is the lack of time spent in each. From local cuisine to cultural highlights and more, six to eight hours in a single port of call isn't enough to experience everything the destination offers. That's why cruise lines have begun to offer longer stays, including overnight visits, in certain ports. 

When browsing Celebrity's website for summer 2025, for instance, the 9-night sailing to Spain, Portugal, and Morrocco departing on May 22, June 19, and August 14 includes an overnight stay in Lisbon, Portugal, allowing guests more than 24 hours to explore the country's capital. 

More cruise travelers plan to book longer cruises for their next holiday


Whether you want more time to fully experience the amenities and activities onboard the ship or explore more desintations, longer cruises give you more time to savor every moment of your vacation. According to the 2023 State of the Industry Report, 43% of cruisers say they want to book a longer sailing. Moreover, 43% say they want to book one that is a similar length to their last one. 

If you took a short 3-night getaway as your first cruise, you may realize that a weekend isn't enough time to immersive yourself in the true cruise experience, especially if you're sailing on a larger vessel like Utopia of the Seas! 

On the other hand, maybe you have a surplus of PTO you're looking to use. What better way than a two or three-week cruise sailing around Europe, the South Pacific, or the Panama Canal? 

Family and friends have the most influence on decisions to book a cruise or not

Aerial view of PortMiami

86% of cruisers reported that friends and family had some influence or significant influence in their choice to cruise, highlighting the importance of social connections and recommendations in shaping travelers' decisions. 

Whether you've heard a memorable story from a coworker or a horror story from a family member, personal networks greatly influence an individual's decision on booking a cruise or not. 

This statistic also emphasizes the importance of fostering positive relationships with passengers and providing exceptional service onboard, as it will inspire them to share their experiences with others. 

Loading Comments