Reaching that "lit" status has been intentional on the part of cruise lines, says Colleen McDaniel, who is senior executive editor with CruiseCritic.com, a cruise review site and online community. As someone who cruises up to eight times a year, McDaniel has seen how the industry is shedding its shuffleboard image and appealing to younger travelers.
"Cruising long held a reputation for being for an older crowd, and while years ago, it might have been true, today you'll find travelers of all ages cruising," she says.
To stoke their interest, McDaniel says cruise companies are trying approaches that have long worked on land, by offering immersive local onshore experiences, more reliable (and less expensive) WiFi, a wider range of culinary options and more. I
McDaniel shared the ways she's seeing ships draw in the next generation(s) in cruising.
They're offering excursions for travelers, not just tourists. A bike ride to a coal mine in Cologne, Germany; a tour of Amsterdam's Red Light District; a street-art walk in Paris; mountain biking through the Bavarian Forest - these are all options for travelers on U by Uniworld river cruises, which float down the Seine, Main, Rhine and Danube. The company also has a partnership with EatWith, a meal-sharing service, so passengers can arrange to dine in the home of a host in different cities along the way. It's all a far cry from the mass of tourists often associated with a cruise excursion.
She also highlights Azamara Club Cruises, a small luxury company offering intriguing travel opportunities, such as truffle hunting and wine tasting in Slovenia, and guided nighttime rendezvous to pubs, dinner parties, theatres and more - with outings limited to groups of 25 or fewer.
Internet access, once notoriously slow and prohibitively expensive on cruise ships, also has vastly improved. Today, it tends to be fast enough that you can stream movies and use FaceTime with family, McDaniel says, and prices are more affordable. Some cruise ships offer social media packages so that, for a modest fee, passengers can access just their Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat accounts. That allows them to share their latest photos - and perhaps dredge up some cruise envy (and in doing so, reach new cruise audiences).
In addition, cruise apps allow passengers to communicate with one another, book spa appointments and excursions, order drinks and other items and get into their cabin, all by using their phones. "You still are going to put your phone on airplane mode because you don't want to ring up a huge cellphone bill," McDaniel says. "But if you get internet and you're using the ship's app, you're in great shape."
And they're feeding the appetite for better food and beverages.
On some cruises you can find cooking classes and excursions to local markets. Others even offer diet themes: Weight Watchers is working with MSC to offer cruises with "points" listed for meals, snacks and drinks.
Speaking of drinks, some ships have started brewing their own beer. Carnival Vista and Carnival Horizon (which sets sail in April) both have breweries on board. Carnival Vista's RedFrog Pub & Brewery and Carnival Horizon's Guy's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Q Smokehouse|Brewhouse (Guy as in Fieri, again) transform ocean water to beer, with the help of desalination and a reverse osmosis water system. -The Washington Post.