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Home Vacation Want to take a cruise vacation? Here’s what’s hot for 2024

Want to take a cruise vacation? Here’s what’s hot for 2024

by Staff

The cruising industry is stronger than ever. Ships of all shapes, sizes, and price points are filling up – and selling out.

If this is your year to take a well-deserved cruise vacation, you are not alone. According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), global demand for cruising continues to increase, with cruise lines reporting record-breaking bookings throughout 2024 and into 2025.

As a frequent cruiser (120+ under my belt), I can attest to the fact that it offers travelers the ability to visit multiple far-flung and pristine destinations in total comfort, convenience, value, with few (if any) hassles.

Be prepared though, due to the demand, cruise lines across the board have or will be raising rates. If you see a good deal, and with “Wave Season” sales upon us (January-March), don’t wait.

With more than 300 ships sailing the world’s oceans, 2024 welcomes 14 new cruise ships debuting in the big ship/mainstream, upper premium , luxury and expedition categories – including the largest cruise ship on the planet, Royal Caribbean’s “Icon of the Seas,” which holds 7,600 passengers.

Here are some of the big trends for 2024:

Off-the-beaten-path expedition travel. Luxury, yacht-like adventure ships are going to the extremes (some with onboard scientists and submarines) in Antarctica, Galapagos, Alaska and Greenland – taking in all natural wonders in an up-close and personal way. Western Australia, Madagascar and the Seychelles are also on the expedition uptick.

Luxury & Personalization. Today’s luxury travelers are demanding lots of space for themselves and their families, particularly suites designed for multigenerational guests. Personalized itineraries, unique experiences, intimate destinations and private, one-of-a-kind excursions for all ages. (Hands on & learning activities at every port-of-call are very popular, book early and long before you sail.)

Authentic, active and inspirational experiences. In other words, experiencing a city or town or hidden neighborhoods with people who live there and know it best and sharing a glass of wine or meal at a local host home.

Longer (14 to 42+ nights) trips with additional sea days and overnight stays in ports are selling out throughout 2024. Good luck finding a stateroom on a world cruise for this year. Most of the world cruise ships are already sold out for 2025 and 2026.

Wellness & Restoration. Step off the ship feeling better, looking better and returning home with a new and healthy attitude towards your personal well-being. Healthy, locally sourced and vegan meals are now expected and included in the daily menus. On-board spas offer everything from meditation to beauty treatments.

Solo travelers are breaking booking records – and several cruise ships offer solo staterooms (including lounges/public areas) without any additional charges.

Baby Boomers spend the most money on travel. They have no problem taking the entire family on a cruise – and accepting the cost as a worthwhile investment.

River cruising is in demand and continues to increase in Europe and Asia. There is also a surge in interest for domestic, small-ship cruising throughout U.S. coastal waterways – including Great Lakes expedition cruises.

Cruise & Stay. Over 65% of cruise passengers spend extra days before and/or after their voyage exploring the region and extending their vacations.

Celebrity chefs and specialty dining. Culinary and wine theme cruises continue to lure guests onboard with visits to local wineries and farmers’ markets while feasting on local cuisine with the ships’ executive chef.

Environmental sustainability and continuing progress of developing new technology for cleaner fuel and better energy efficiency.

Home ports. The convenience of driving to the ship is especially appealing to travelers from the central Pa. region with Baltimore, New York and New Jersey close by.

Shorter cruises (3 to 7 nights) are very enticing to new guests and are attracting more millennials and Gen-X travelers than before. In the Bahamas and Caribbean, days spent on private islands owned and run by cruise lines are the top reasons for booking tropical itineraries.

Safety and security. The top priority for every cruise line is the safety, security and health for both passengers and crew. Cruise ships can easily alter their courses and cancel any ports of call or itineraries deemed necessary. And since the pandemic, cruise ships continue to have ongoing medical protocols combined with 24/7 cleanliness and sanitation details.

With more choices than ever before, here is a sampling of a few ocean cruise lines I have experienced and recommend :

Royal Carribbean International (big ship/mainstream) – For 2024 there are two new ships: “Icon of the Seas”, the largest ship in the world (7,600 guests) just debuted, and coming this spring is “Utopia of the Seas”.

Holland America Line (premium) – For 2024: Longer voyages, more visits to Alaska’s glaciers and a first-of-its-kind “Global Fish Program” offering 80 varieties of fresh fish with highly acclaimed Chef Masaharu Morimoto.

Oceania Cruises – For 2024: Exclusively curated for food lovers, the “Wine & Food Editors Cruise” and the “Culinary Masters Cruise” are filling up quickly – plus Oceania’s “Riviera” will explore Asia and Africa later this spring.

Viking Cruises (premium plus/luxury) – For 2024: Viking will offer several cruises throughout the year beginning or ending in New York City and a new ocean ship, “Vela”, will debut in December.

Regent Seven Seas (luxury) – For 2024: Regent Seven Seas launches an industry-first with overnight stays in every port of call with their exclusive “New Collection” sailings – and select multi-generational Alaska itineraries where kids sail free.

Seabourn (luxury) – For 2024: “Solis”, a fine-dining Mediterranean experience will be unveiled throughout the fleet. Seabourn’s newest ship, “Pursuit”, will traverse the remote region of Western Australia, marking Seabourn’s first time visiting this destination in addition to traveling to the South Pacific region of New Guinea, West Papua and Indonesia in May, June, August and September.

Silversea Cruises (luxury) – For 2024: Silversea’s newest luxury ship, “Silver Ray”, will launch in June. Throughout the year, Silversea will offer limited-time savings on many door-to-door and port-to-port fares on a wide variety of voyages.

Before you book your vacation, sit down and talk with an expert at your trusted travel agency. You need to know you are getting on the right ship, at the right price. Ask about special sales, promotions and added amenities. Ask about any 2-for-1 fares, free or discounted airfare programs, onboard incentives and complimentary dining choices.

I would also ask your travel agent about onboard attire. Proper dining attire varies from ship to ship, depending on the itinerary and length of the voyage. Most cruise lines have relaxed their dress codes, but no one wants to get dressed up for dinner and find they are sitting next to another couple wearing t-shirts and sweatpants.

“Let’s Visit PA with Sandy Fenton”, is broadcast on iHeartRadio and heard locally every Saturday morning from 11am-noon on WHP580. For more information, go to whp580.com and click on the link to “Let’s Visit PA”.

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