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Iglu Cruise: Cruise Trends of 2023

Cruise Predictions for 2024 from IGLU Cruise


Dave Mills, Chief Commercial Officer, Iglu Cruise



Predicting future travel trends is not for the faint-hearted, but the expert team at Iglu Cruise provides their predictions for 2024, based on booking patterns and customer insights. As the leading independent cruise travel agent, Iglu Cruise uniquely has sight of the entire range of cruise holidays available and is constantly listening to the requests of their hundreds of thousands of guests. They work with all major cruise lines to understand what’s new and what’s in the offing in terms of the cruising experience.  The start of 2024 is a key turning point in cruise, with the launch of brand new ships, customer confidence at a high, and many newcomers starting to cruise.


Here are their predictions for 2024:


 

  1. More growth

Following a record-breaking year in 2023 for cruise sales, Iglu Cruise is forecasting further overall market growth in 2024 of 15%, not least due to new TV series based on board ships, such as Channel 5’s Good Ship Murder, and The Cruise: Fun Loving Brits, also on Channel 5. Growth will come from those who are new to the world of cruising; from those returning to cruise after a break during the pandemic, and those who begin to take more cruises each year, given the plethora of new onboard experiences, destinations and themed cruises, giving even more reasons to travel. 


  1. Rise in regional departures 

2023 saw London Tilbury rise in popularity and begin to challenge Southampton as a convenient  UK departure point. Offering a variety of UK ports for embarkation brings the idea of cruising to the whole of the UK, and offers the most easy and stress-free way to start a holiday. Virgin Voyages will start cruises on board Resilient Lady from Portsmouth, and Ambassador now offer cruises from seven UK ports. 


  1. Rise in true all-inclusives 

Demand for true all-inclusive sailings  is on the rise, as guests look to be totally sure of their budgets before leaving home. Iglu Cruise notes a particular interest in cruises where no tipping is required, to avoid the uncertainty of how much to tip, to whom and when to do it. Cruise lines offering all inclusive sailings include Marella Cruises; Seabourn and Celebrity Cruises.


  1. Rise in family cruises 

As more capacity is added to the cruise market, more family cabins become available. This opens up a world of opportunity for family and multigenerational cruises during school holidays, and outside term time for those with preschoolers. As awareness rises about all there is to do, in age-specific groups, classes and sports, Iglu Cruise only sees the number of families cruising rising. Iglu Cruise promotes MSC who chose Lego as an exclusive entertainment partner, to give all the children who cruise with MSC the chance to play with the best toys in the most fun environment. 


  1. Cruise Lines listen to needs of solo travellers who resolve to research single cabins

It’s well known that the availability of single cabins for solo cruisers means that you have to book very early or wait until the last minute and not mind too much where you go and when. Iglu Cruise sees cruise lines improving the number of cabins per ship for solos and in particular recommend Norwegian Cruise Line, Fred. Olsen and Royal Caribbean Cruises for those looking for a cabin for sole occupancy. 


  1. More themed cruises   

2024 will see more themed cruises, which are being announced on a regular basis. Iglu Cruise say guests are really appreciating the rise of themed, more immersive cruises. They see cruise lines becoming more and more creative with experiences available, designing very tempting holidays full of interest and stimulation. Iglu Cruise’s top trending options for themed cruises include theatrical performances, workshops and screenings by the Royal Shakespeare Company on board Cunard’s Queen Mary 2; Pride cruises in June; stargazing with astronomers on board Fred. Olsen’s Balmoral and the chance to hear a talk from the BBC’s favourite weather presenter, Carol Kirkwood on board Hurtigruten’s MS Maud as she sails around the British Isles.


  1. Rise in new-to-cruise

Social media cruise groups are full of questions from newcomers to the cruise world. Iglu Cruise sees many taking their first cruise around the UK, or to a particular country where it’s easy to visit top sights by cruise ship such as Italy, Spain or Croatia. In general, cruise ships welcome those with accessibility needs well, with very high service levels, opening cruising to those who may not want to do battle with steps up to aircraft or long airport corridors. 


  1. Cruise and Stay on the rise 

Responding to an increased demand for combination holidays, Iglu Cruise has developed a ‘spice route’ voyage from Mumbai to Sri Lanka and Singapore with an eight-night India’s Tigers & Golden Triangle land tour. It means several bucket list items are being ticked off at once. An alternative would be a South Africa Exploration itinerary, including not only a cruise, but a tour of the world-famous Stellenbosch Wine Region and a safari experience. 


  1. Polarisation of small versus large ships

As the cruise market continues to mature, Iglu Cruise sees new ships being launched at either end of the spectrum, with smaller ships such as from Explora Journeys and Seabourn, coming into their own, compared with 6000+ passenger ships such as Icon of the Seas from Royal Caribbean Cruises, appealing to a totally different market.


  1. Rise in interest in cruises to cooler climes in hot summers

To avoid very high summer temperatures, guests are voting with their feet and choosing cruises to cooler climes, where they can relax and enjoy the whole day and feel comfortable at night. Good choices are Scandinavia, Scotland, Ireland, Alaska, Canada and New England. Iglu Cruise’s recent research showed at uplift in demand for the Arctic in 2023 versus 2022 of 201.3%. 


  1. Rise of interest in low-cost ‘repositioning cruises’

There are some very attractive great value cruises which spend days at sea followed by island hopping, from Europe to the Caribbean for example, as ships are repositioned for the next season. Prices are very keen on such sailings, and this can be noted as a trend for cruisers to pick out these sailings as a way to cruise at a lower cost. 


  1. Cruise Lines listen to the needs of passengers pursuing a healthy lifestyle

As more and more people start to cruise, their individual needs and preferences will be more carefully met. Those looking to keep fit and eat healthily will be able to choose from lighter menus and more tailored facilities. A good example of this is Celebrity Cruises’ Aqua Class staterooms which are usually furnished in lighter colours to accentuate the feeling of a refreshing break. In Aqua Class guests enjoy an overall wellness experience with access to the on board spa areas, a complimentary wellness consultation, and exclusive access to the Blu restaurant with ‘cleaner’ cuisine. Their Spa Cafe & Juice Bar on the new Celebrity Ascent similarly features freshly prepared smoothies, juices and nutritious treats. 



Mills said, ‘I predict 2024 will be about more confidence returning to travelling, with people having more of a sense of ‘carpe diem’ and committing to creative and multi-faceted trips, to create brilliant memories and to have something of interest for each guest travelling. Whilst no-one knows what’s around the corner, it’s true to say that the demand for cruise is bigger than ever, due to a combination of factors including more choice of cruises; more capacity; higher awareness of this type of holiday; an interest in value-for-money holidays; general confidence in travel and more and more inspiring cruises, meaning it’s easy to commit to many cruise holidays in any one year. We are confident about a strong 2024, and are even selling a lot of cruises for 2025. The message is to do your research, lean on an independent agent such as Iglu Cruise for the best deal and unbiased advice, and dream big in the year ahead’.

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