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Cruising for the Next Generation

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Cruising for pleasure has been around since the turn of the 19th century, and today, dozens of cruise lines sail to a myriad of destinations. Cruises were once the vacation of choice among seniors and the middle-aged, but recent years have seen a shift in the cruise population. Who is cruising these days, and how might this demographic change impact opportunities for investment in the potentially best cruise stocks?

Cruising, Reimagined

Cruises have long been appealing because they combine travel, activities, entertainment, dining, and excursions all into one floating vacation machine. Cruises make it affordable and easy to pack several destinations into just a few days, all while staying in one cabin and unpacking just one time, with just about everything taken care of on board. Being out at sea allows cruise passengers to experience a rejuvenating disconnect from the stressors of daily life. Best of all, the broad range of cruise destinations makes this a vacation trend you can enjoy over and over again without getting bored. 

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As Andy Harmer of the Cruise Lines International Association explains, the long-standing cruise population had aged beyond their traveling years, leaving cruise companies wondering how to ensure future clientele. To address this issue, cruise lines made a conscious effort to appeal to younger age groups. Cruising has been reimagined to attract millennials, including families and groups of friends looking for their next vacation destination.

A 2020 industry report by the Cruise Lines International Association revealed that 71% of millennials say they are likely to go on their first cruise in the next few years. The numbers are even higher for those who have cruised in the past, with 82% of Gen Xers and 85% of millennials looking to book a repeat cruise. As the travel industry, and cruising in particular, have struggled to make a comeback post-Covid, renewed interest in cruising by the younger generation means that the time may be ripe to invest in cruise stocks or travel ETF. 

Modern options

Today’s cruises allow travelers to explore ports of call in several countries in a fresh, modern way. Cruise-goers use these sample visits as a springboard that allows them to bookmark destinations they want to visit again on a longer trip in the future. This try-before-you-buy approach speaks to young people, much the way previews and trailers are par for the course these days before committing to watching a movie.

Like other mainstays of hospitality and entertainment, the cruise industry seeks to keep travelers happy. Accommodating the needs and preferences of younger vacationers is a must. Today’s cruises offer some of the latest activities, right on board, zip lines, rock climbing walls, water slides, and go-karting, among the many options. Indoor skydiving, surf simulators, and state-of-the-art gyms are other high-thrills activities that make cruises exciting for millennials. Branding has also become a priority for cruises, with a strong social media focus encouraging passengers to share cruise selfies and become brand ambassadors.

Entertainment options have also been updated for twenty-first-century cruising, with wine tastings, sushi-making workshops, and integrated technological gadgets. Travelers today expect cruise travel to have the personalization and customization they are used to. Tech integrations liven up cruising, making it feel dynamic and up-to-date. For example, The MSC Cruises’ Virtuosa offers a humanoid robotic bartender and virtual reality gaming. Carnival Corporation features the award-winning OceanMedallion, an innovative wearable IoT device that enhances personalization and provides ship goers with keyless cabin access, on-demand services, and friction-free payments. Carnival Corporation’s chief experience and innovation officer John Padgett shared that 99% of their guests adopted the Medallion technology to enhance their cruise experience.  

Updated appeal

Cultural enrichment and learning are important to the younger travelers, and cruise lines are listening. Many have expanded their offerings to include personal development activities and lessons that allow vacationers to learn about and appreciate different cultures while enjoying their getaway. January 2022 saw the launch of Hurtigruten Expeditions, the first-ever cruise that sails to the Galapagos Islands. Guests have the opportunity to enjoy an immersive experience along with unique excursions like glass-bottomed boats, zodiac rides, and sessions with scientists and naturalists. 

Responsible, sustainable tourism has made its way to the cruise industry, which speaks to young people’s environmentalist values. The industry has invested billions into energy-efficient technologies to reduce carbon emissions, minimize the use of single-use plastics, and promote recycling on board. 44% of newly built ships rely on liquified natural gas (LNG) for primary propulsion, a severe nod towards more responsible fuel practices.

Demographic considerations

In the future of cruise travel, targeted experiences are the name of the game. Some cruises offer themed or targeted trips aimed toward couples, families, or singles looking to meet and mingle. Other interest-specific cruises focus on music, sports, and even beloved movies or TV shows.

Cruises are a major attraction for families, a trend that the Disney Cruise Line first popularized. The recent surge of Omicron in Europe has meant travel on its latest ship, Disney Wish, has been delayed through July 2023. Several cruise lines such as Marella offer family-friendly amenities like larger cabins, kids clubs, and excursion options that appeal to kids. 

So many of us have pet companions these days, and there’s now a pet-friendly cruise line that sails from England to New York, with a pet play area and pet attendants who feed, walk, and cuddle pets. The Cunard cruise line accommodates travelers with pets to the smallest detail, including mock fire hydrants and lamp posts where pets can do their business on board. 

Going forward

Cruising has made a conscious effort to appeal to a new generation of travelers who are delightedly discovering the enjoyment and value they offer. Once considered a bastion of the older population, modern-day cruises provide an innovative take on a classic experience. While investors in cruise stocks may encounter choppy waters due to changing guidelines and occasional cancellations, enthusiasts won’t be deterred. In fact, 88% of cruisers who sailed during the Omicron wave of Covid say they would cruise again under the same circumstances. Modern-day cruising is decidedly set on a hopeful course towards a brighter future.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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