COVID challenged the cruise industry in unprecedented ways. But the industry proved resilient. Pent-up demand caused cruise bookings to bounce back in 2022, a trend that should continue in the near future: according to Cruiseline.com and Shipmate’s 2022 Member Survey, 91.4 percent of respondents reported they plan to take a cruise within the next year.
To find out what to expect from the cruise world in 2023, we turned to Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, a 37-year industry veteran. Since 2014, she’s served as president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, whose new Celebrity Beyond — the third ship in the modern-luxe Edge Series — set out on its inaugural U.S. sailing earlier this month featuring decorated chef Daniel Boulud’s first fine-dining restaurant at sea, Le Voyage; new AquaClass SkySuites with floor-to-ceiling ocean vistas, balconies and wellness amenities; and Simone Biles, the most decorated American gymnast in history, as the vessel’s godmother.
As we close out 2022, Lutoff-Perlo shared three cruise trends that she predicts will be big in the coming year:
There Will Be a Demand for Bucket-List Destinations
“We saw ‘revenge travel’ happening in our data before the term was coined,” Lutoff-Perlo said. “From the moment we returned to service, it was clear to us consumers had a renewed propensity to travel and to experience their bucket list destinations. They also identified the compelling value proposition that a cruise vacation offers for their return to experiencing the world — that when seeing the world there is real value in unpacking once and waking up to explore a new destination every day. Based on the ongoing data, I believe consumers will continue to seek out places they have never been and only previously dreamed of going and that they will be looking to make a deeper connection with the places they visit. Travel brands need to rethink what a destination experience really means to today’s traveler.”
Sustainability Will Be a Focus
“The world is thinking about sustainability and the travel industry should continue striving for progress when it comes to ESG,” she said. “This needs to be reflected not only in the infrastructure that enables the vacation — cruise ships, planes, trains, etc. — but also throughout the entire travel experience. How are we being responsible destination partners? Taking care of the planet and each other? The cruise industry, like many others, already does so much, but we must continue to innovate and share all that we are doing.”
Wellness Experiences Will Evolve
“Our health instantly became top of mind pre-pandemic, and I believe it’s even more important now and into the future through a broader, more holistic lens,” she said. “We’re seeing in our research that self-care, forming stronger connections with family and friends and living a healthier lifestyle are top consumer goals for the coming years. And, with the definition of ‘wellbeing’ continuing to expand, travel brands need to think about it in terms of everything from mind to body and spirit.”
“At Celebrity Cruises, we continue to weave wellbeing into the entire guest experience from the design and spaciousness of all areas onboard, to leveraging the restorative power of the ocean, to spa and culinary experiences, to simplifying transactions for our guests.”