Alaska © Cameron Zegers / Un-Cruise
A couple of weeks ago I visited the London Cruise Show at Olympia. It was good to discover the new trends in the world of cruising.
First conclusion: the people from the United Kingdom have a lot more to chose from than for example my fellow countrymen. Some brands are virtually unavailable in Belgium, such as Saga Cruises or Viking Ocean Cruises. Which is a pity. My enthusiasm after last year’s visit to the VIKING STAR (from Viking Ocean Cruises) had no peer. Most of my cruising friends would love to sail with such an attractive ship.
The stylish, almost minimalistic atrium of VIKING STAR © Mike Louagie
Now, which are the main cruise trends I witnessed in London?
SERENISSIMA is an old Hurtigruten ship, now used as a small cruise ship for maximum 110 passengers. © Mike Louagie
1. Small is beautiful.
A huge interest for small ships which brings you to places where the others don’t go. There are a number of tour operators who are specialised in small ship travel. The more you dive into the subject the more you find unique cruise destinations.
An example on the London Cruise Show was Noble Caledonia.
On the Amazon, the Zodiacs allow guests close encounters with nature. © Hapag-Lloyd Cruises
2. Nature is hot.
Especially the expedition ships have become more attractive than ever. Even if it still is a niche market I can see a future with more special ships equipped with zodiacs and, why not, a helicopter or a submarine.
Some examples: Hapag-Lloyd expedition cruises, Un-Cruise, Oceanwide Expeditions, Ponant, Hurtigruten, Lindblad National Geographic Expeditions. G Adventure Expedition Cruises.
Australian cruise operator Scenic is building a “discovery yacht”.
The KONINGSDAM from Holland America Line will herald an era of dozens of new ships. She will be introduced in April. © Fincantieri
As from April we will see the arrival of a number of big new ships, and this is only the beginning of an order spree which already takes us beyond the year 2022. The possibilities are only increasing. More different ships; more destinations; special themes and excursions; cruises for amateurs of culture, nature, history or just for pleasure.
Cruising is for all ages. There are adult-only ships or family-fun ships.
In other words: the sky is the limit. Or should I say the sea?
AMASERENA on the Rhine © Mike Louagie
4. The mighty rivers.
Year after year the river cruise segment continues to grow and to impress.
So many new well-designed floating boutique hotels have been introduced. It is amazing. If a river cruise ship has been built more than ten years ago, then it can be considered as old.
Besides the huge offer of river cruises in Europe more and more can be discovered elsewhere in the world: the Mekong (Cambodia, Vietnam), the Irrawaddy (Myanmar), the Amazon (Peru, Brazil), the river Chobé (Botswana), etc.
We already sailed with CroisiEurope and AmaWaterways.
5. Solo travel and other deals
Cruise prices have always been based on two persons in one cabin. If you wanted to travel on your own then you still sometimes had to pay for two. Now I have seen more companies than ever before advertising a “no single surcharge”.
Sometimes the offer is valid on a limited number of sailings.
I have also noticed an increase in early booking promotions. Instead of cheaper fares the companies offer free spending money. It is a discount that doesn’t lower your booking invoice. It is virtual money which can be used in the onboard shops, the spa etc.
Other things that were offered for free in certain promotions were drink and/or internet packages.
Text & photos: Mike
EUROPA 2 (Hapag-Lloyd Cruises) © Mike Louagie
Conclusion: year after year I have seen how cruise holidays are so much more than… a cruise. In fact what I have experienced in London is exactly why Véronique and I started this blog. You can travel over the water in so many different ways, and the number of destinations you can visit by ship is almost endless.
I am eagerly looking forward to travel by ship again.