Exploring the world from the comfort of a cruise ship is a memorable experience and today’s travelers have more choice than ever when it comes to affordable, yet luxurious, cruising.
We sat down with Jordana Botting, Director of Cruise Sales at Cruise Professionals by Tully Luxury Travel to discuss what cruising looks like today. Jordana has been in the cruise industry for 13 years and has gone on more than 70 cruises. She loves creating incredible cruise experiences for her clients.
What is the biggest misconception people have about cruising?
When non-cruisers think of cruises, they typically imagine a couple, generally an older couple, going on a big ship floating around the Caribbean or in Alaska. But today’s cruise market has gone so far beyond that stereotype. Today, cruising is one of the best ways to see the world. The ease of travel is unlike any other mode of transportation. You unpack once and see a new destination almost daily.
Families, solo travelers, adventure travelers and younger generations are all being courted by the premium lines with activities and accommodations specifically designed for them. Since cruise ships now come in all sizes, from more intimate ships to large mega-ships, travelers have a lot of choice in how they want to cruise.
Itineraries have come a long way too — river cruises in Europe, expedition cruises in Galápagos, boutique cruises in Asia — today there isn’t much of the world you can’t explore from the comfort of a ship.
How are cruise lines accommodating families?
While couples still make up a large part of cruise sales, it is not unusual to have groups going together. Multi-generational travel is an emerging trend. We are booking more and more families — grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, and kids — all cruising together. Cruise lines are noticing this trend and making accommodations.
On Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, there are many activities and themes that will keep kids busy, but there are also quiet kid-free zones for when mom and dad (or grandma and grandpa) want to get away for a date night or a quiet afternoon.
Many cruise lines have staterooms with enough space to house a large family. On Royal Caribbean, for example, you will find interconnected staterooms and family staterooms with separate bedrooms that give privacy while keeping everyone together.
There are even cruises designed specifically for families with special needs and many cruise lines are starting to offer this service. Celebrity Cruises, for example, offers ‘autism-friendly cruises’ where families will find activities and services specially tailored to their needs. From expedited check-in and special dietary accommodation to low-lit, low-volume films and an autism-friendly toy lending program.
On the other end of the spectrum, you mentioned solo cruisers. How are cruise lines adapting to this trend?
Solo cruising has always been popular, but singles often have to pay for two in order to book a stateroom. While many cruise lines offer discounts and sales to make cruising more affordable for the solo traveler, some are now offering purposely build staterooms for one. Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line and Royal Caribbean all now have rooms that accommodate solo cruisers without any extra singles supplement.
Norwegian Cruise Line especially does a great job. Their rooms for one come with a full-size bed, flat-screen TV and private bathroom, but then they also have an exclusive solo lounge where travelers can mingle, meet people or just grab a drink.
Cruise lines are also paying more attention to solo cruisers when offering entertainment. Many now have programs that don’t require a partner, such as wine tastings and culinary experiences.
What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the premium industry over the years?
Onboard hardware is becoming really spectacular. We see surf stimulators, sky diving and ice skating rinks available on larger ships. Entertainment has also come a long way. Shows are now Broadway quality and hands-on experiences, like cooking demonstrations, are becoming popular.
And the overall vibe of cruises is becoming more laid back and casual. Freestyle cruising, where you can dine where and with whom you want, is becoming the norm.
You have gone on more than 70 cruises. Do you not get bored?
Cruising is a very addictive pastime! The beauty of cruising is that there are always new ships to try and new destinations to explore.
Many of our well-traveled clients come to us looking for cruises that have new or unique ports of call. Long-time cruisers can get tired of the same ports. Some are port collectors and they want to check ports off of a bucket list, whether they be in far-flung destinations or just unique ports in more familiar locales.
Often changing to a smaller ship gives access to ports that are inaccessible to larger cruise liners, such as Tahiti, Bora Bora or places throughout Asia. I’ve been to the Caribbean more times than I can count, but I recently went there on a Windstar ship, which is a smaller yacht ship, and stopped in ports that larger ships cannot access, such as St. Barts. It was a completely different experience for me.
I also have clients who are ship collectors — they enjoy trying new ships, especially on inaugural journeys, or want to go on all the ships from one particular brand. Each brand offers its own loyalty program so the more you travel with one company, the more perks you earn.
Once you see the large amount of choice — in ship and destination — available for cruisers, I can’t see why you would want to travel the world by any other means.
Start planning your next cruise experience with a Cruise Professional by Tully Luxury Travel today. Visit us at TullyLuxuryTravel.com for more inspiration!