What to Expect From Cruise Lines In '14
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Cruise line aficionados are generally happy with their travel experiences and willing to pay for their island-hopping and sea-going vacation experience. According to J.D. Power & Associates , 80% of all cruise line consumers experience a trouble-free excursion, paying on average $1,628 per person to hit the high seas.
All that after a year the cruise industry was grounded by some bad publicity.
"Many cruise lines in the report have very high levels of passenger satisfaction, well above the report average; however, for more than a year, the overall industry has been dealing with a lot of negative news affecting customer perceptions, expectations and trust," says Ramez Faza, senior account manager of the global travel division at J.D. Power.
The industry has its work cut out for it to regain some of its luster, and that's up to individual cruise lines.
"To raise the bar, the industry must focus on meeting the needs of the nearly 20% of passengers who experience a problem with their cruise line experience," Faza says. "Cruise lines need to understand the causes of customer dissatisfaction and determine what will motivate them to come back."
An online consumer cruise and travel service provider called CruiseCompete has a report on the travel trends that might induce even members of that 20% to come back:
There will be more river travel: River trips should remain highly popular, with cruise lines adding itineraries in Asia and Africa to sweeten the pot. Technology and new manufacturing techniques have allowed the industry to build river cruise ships that are just as extravagant as luxurious ocean-going vessels.
More "exotic" routes will be offered: Cruise lines will amp up efforts to go off the beaten path to find new, more exotic venues for travelers. Disney Cruise Line , for example, is adding ports including Catania, Corfu, Katakolon, Rhodes, Heraklion, Santorini, Tenerife and Ibiza to its European routes.
China will become a player: China is ready to jump in to the cruise market, with Shanghai especially becoming increasingly a port of call to foreign travelers. Expect expanded travel options to Chinese ports in 2014.
Media will be an inspiration: CruiseCompete says that so-called "educational travel" will be a big hit with consumers in 2014. Sea-going travelers want to "seek destinations related to places they have either read about or seen on television documentaries," the firm says, citing the Audie Murphy Memorial in France as one example of a popular destination.
Food options will change: Cruise consumers are growing weary of "eat what you want, when you want" dining accommodations. Now they want more formal sit-down dinners, at the same table, with the same diners and waiters.