Cruise News: The Latest in Cruising Trends

Factors and news to consider when pondering your next ocean voyage.

Cruising continues to be popular. In 2016, seven ocean-going ships sailed on their maiden voyages and more ships will float out in 2017. Two vessels designed for the burgeoning Asian market — Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Joy and Princess Cruises’ Majestic Princess – will launch this spring. Here are factors and news to consider when pondering your next ocean voyage.

Related Cruise News

· Princess Cruises Overhauls Fleet to Attract Passengers

· Top 8 Cruise Trends of 2017

How Passengers Chose a Cruise in 2016

Most passengers select a cruise based on 10 factors, according to analysis by MMGY Global 2016 Portrait of American Travelers.

· Ports of call: 90 percent of cruisers said this was important.

· Onboard food: 89 percent ranked this as important.

· Cabin quality: 88 percent

· Itineraries: 88 percent

· Excursions: 84 percent

· Cruise brand name/reputation: 83 percent

· Cabin layout: 73 percent

·Fine dining opportunities: 72 percent

·Nightlife entertainment options: 66 percent

·Previous experience with the line: 64 percent

Sailing Close to Home

Although cruisers still want international itineraries, terrorism and uncertainties abroad have created new demand for voyages close to the U.S. Cruise Lines International Association reports that in 2016, interest in sailings to Alaska increased 73 percent; voyages to the Caribbean, Bermuda and Mexico increased 48 percent; sailings to Hawaii increased 36 percent; voyages to the Panama Canal increased 33 percent, and sailings to Canada and New England increased 30 percent.

Cruise News and Recent Ships

Holland America Line (HAL): Highlights of Holland America’s Koningsdam, launched April 2016, include Blend, a venue where passengers can mix their own wine; a Culinary Arts Center, designed for cooking classes and meals; and Music Walk, where Memphis sounds come alive at B.B. King’s Blues Club, rock hits play at Billboard. Lincoln Center Stage, in conjunction with New York City’s Lincoln Center, showcases classical music.

Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL): NCL introduced Escape, 2015. NCL also pioneered “Freestyle Dining,” an eat where and when you want program. With more than 25 dining venues, you won’t be bored when eating on the Escape, but you might spend more than you’d like to on specialty restaurants as those offer the best food. To reduce your cost, purchase a specialty restaurant dining package ahead of time.

To “refresh” the line, NCL has invested $400 million to renovate nine ships by 2018. The line also opened Harvest Caye, a beach destination in Belize, in November 2016. The 75-acre island comes with white sand, a zipline, and a lagoon for kayaking as well as 3,000 plus of your fellow passengers. Never mind the crowds; your kids will love the place.

Royal Caribbean International (RCI): RCI’s vessels are known for onboard action. Many deliver rock climbing walls, zip lines, a surfing simulator (FlowRider), and an ice skating rink. For little kids, Harmony, launched June 2016, adds an enlarged Splashaway Bay water park. Bigger kids and adults can get some thrills by swirling down a 10-story, multi-deck waterslide. Food is abundant, but much of it is more average than outstanding unless you pay for specialty restaurants.