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Friday, June 24, 2016

What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then

Someone on a cruisecritic.com forum recently asked readers what they wish they knew about cruising when they first started. What would I answer? How much fun it is!


We started late—our first was in ’05—and it was only because we had the same misconceptions that many people still do. 

Today, 19 cruises later, we can’t help but bemoan all the wasted time—the places we could have gone to, the ships we could have been on. (But not all the calories I would’ve consumed!)

Today, with the lines pumping out so many ships each year, spreading their hulls throughout the world, and their ubiquitous advertising, cruising is ballooning like the ships themselves. Some 24 million people are expected to walk up a gangway somewhere in the world this year, up a whopping 68 percent from just a decade ago.

And chances are, they’ll do it again. In a survey, 85 percent of cruisers planned to take another within the next three years. Which says something you and I already know—once you’ve taken a cruise, you’re hooked.

Why? For some, it’s the chance to port hop. For others, it’s the ultimate in relaxation. For all of us, it’s a great value.

Yet, still only one in four people in the U.S. has taken a cruise.

What’s hot and what’s ahead
Another part of cruising that keeps us coming back is that it’s always changing. Here’s what’s hot today:

Cut off, but connected too. Cruise line investment continues to make it easier for us to reach out and touch someone from the sea to the shore.

Pampered in high style. Demand for the finer liners is on the rise.

Branded a cruise shopper. From Ben and Jerry’s, Starbucks and Tiffany on Royal Caribbean to Norman Love on Princess, the lines are bringing on big brands to sell you more onboard.

Just waiting for your order on Navigator of the Seas.
The sea as secondary. The ships are now the destination, with thrills, chills and spills; Broadway shows; and designer shops.

The gift of time. The short port stops are increasing being supplemented by overnight stays.

Bring the whole family. With DreamWorks parades and carousels, spas and casinos, the ships appeal to every age, and whole families are cruising together like never before.

A final word or two
Here are some truisms: 1. Cruising is not for everyone; 2. There’s not much I can do to make up for my lost time.

But what I can do, and what you can do, is spread the word. Champion cruising. Confront those misconceptions. It’s the best way to keep the industry healthy and strong. And that’s good for all of us.

Sources: Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) 2016 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook; 2014 CLIA North America Market Cruise Profile Report, January 2015; Cruisemarketwatch.com