While travelers can certainly sail to the warm climes of the Caribbean in 2018, there are a host of other sailing vacations in store as well. Experts see trends in sailing rivers, gambling, immerse experiences, short hops and world-class entertainment. Families can travel to child-friendly spaces or book luxury cabins.
The following are MarineLink's eight top sailing trends for 2018.
1. Luxury Lines
"Travel by boat might have had luxurious dining rooms, but the sleeping accommodations were more like a sailor’s bed than a luxury hotel. In many lines catering to luxury travelers, that’s all changed. The rooms resemble a penthouse suite. Several lines offer multistory accommodations, with sleeping rooms and sitting rooms in different areas. These luxury lines offer sumptuous dining and entertainment rooms as well," Kacey Bradley writes.
2. River Cruises
"Currently, one-third of all passengers set sail for the Caribbean. River cruises, however, are increasingly a destination. Passengers can relive historic Americana sailing the Mississippi River, the Danube in Germany or the rivers of Asia, which have been burgeoning in popularity over the last several years. River cruises allow travelers to see sights inaccessible via ocean travel, such as the castles of Germany and the countryside of China."
Travel agencies can target Cruise Vacationers by emphasizing new river and luxe offerings. The new AudienceSCAN survey revealed 14% of Americans plan to take cruises this year, so they could be swayed to spend a little more on luxury.
3. Smaller Ships
"If what comes to mind in a sailing vacation is a large cruise ship with multiple berths, think again. One of the major trends in the past three years (that will continue in 2018) has been the smaller ship. Their size makes traveling to smaller and less traveled ports of call possible, including trips to less developed countries, as small boats can dock in less deep harbors. Small ship travelers can explore Norwegian fjords or the interior of New Guinea. Like most cruises, the docking of small ships is combined with shore activities."
4. Riverboat Gambling
"Talk about a slice of Americana! If you’ve seen movies where legendary 19th-century riverboat gambler Doc Holliday plays cards with a six-shooter by his side, you now have a chance to relive those days in a completely safe and clean environment. Many people feel that the United States is in its third age of gambling, after the lotteries of its early history and the free-wheeling days that gave birth to Doc Holliday and his friend Wild Bill Hickok. Riverboat gambling combines the beauty of river travel with the pleasures of games of chance."
These kinds of cruises can appeal to vacationers who love gambling as well as walking down memory lane. The most recent AudienceSCAN study showed 23% of Cruise Vacationers enjoy playing poker/cards, and 29% play the lottery.
5. Immersive Experiences
"Many cruises allow travelers to immerse themselves in the local environment and culture. Cruises to Australia, for example, provide a chance to hear the indigenous instrument the digeridoo and perhaps to learn how to play it. Cruises to Antarctica offer hikes on the remaining glaciers and outdoor tent sleeping in extreme subzero temperatures. If you’ve ever wanted to see the midnight sun over acres and acres of ice, there’s a cruise for you."
6. Family Cruises
"Multiple cruises go to family-friendly resorts and provide activities for both children and parents. The cabins are of course larger than the usual cruise cabin, to give families ample room. Many family cruises are run by outfits already associated with family entertainment, such as Disney. If you’ve ever wanted a vacation that combines togetherness with plenty of fun and gives children a vacation they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, family cruises are for you."
Cruise sellers can consider promoting family-geared cruises to appeal to parent with children. Cruise Vacationers are 36% more likely than average Americans to have children aged six to nine, according to AudienceSCAN data.
7. Short Cruises
"While sailing vacations don’t lack for steady customers, there are also tons of people who have never been on a ship, or don’t know if a week-long trip constantly onboard is for them. Cruise lines are accommodating these people with short-hop vacations of just a few days. These cruises are also ideal, of course, for people who want a relaxing get-away but don’t have a week or more of vacation. Short cruises hit the San Juan Islands of Washington State, for example, to whale watch and sightsee."
8. Entertainment Cruises
"Plenty of people take sailing vacations to sightsee and relax. But let’s not forget that the boat itself can be a site of major entertainment. You can book a cruise where musical stars of Broadway or rhythm and blues performers entertain the passengers nightly. On many cruises, passengers have a chance to chat with and hear lectures from the entertainers as well. Entertainment cruises can fill the bill of beautiful climates, relaxing and seeing top-notch shows."