Onboard Uniworld River Beatrice Danube2

Who knows travel better than those who have dedicated their lives to it? In this series, 7travel talks travel & tips with industry experts. Learn the best travel tips, what mistakes not to make, and what destinations should be on your to-visit list.

When it comes to cruising, Australia sails ahead of every other country for demand. Last year, 1 in almost every 18 Australians took a cruise holiday. While we see many travel trends come and go, cruises are here to stay! To get a clearer sense of where the cruise industry is seeing its offerings going in the next few years, as well as what first-time cruisers would gain from a cruise holiday, we spoke to cruise expert Peter Kollar, Head of International Training & Development, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Do you remember the very first cruise you ever took?
Like many Australians, my first cruise was onboard P&O’s Fairstar in the early 1990’s with a group of friends and a 4-berth cabin. Even though we trailed off a short distance into the South Pacific, it felt like such an international experience with the crew and service on hand. It was the atmosphere of a collective group of travellers together embracing the occasion that sold me.

Cruising can have a reputation of being for the older generations. How has that changed in the last few years?
Cruising reinvented itself from this dogma about a decade ago to attract a new audience that would sustain its longevity. Although many new features like waterparks and ice-skating for kids were brought in, along with service elements like Kids Clubs, it wasn’t until the last 5 years with the implementation of technology and subsequent connectivity that it truly appealed to the younger generation. The rise of millennials cruising right now is phenomenal.

Caribbean

Let’s talk about cruise trends for 2019 and beyond. What can passengers expect to see in the next few years?
The consumer ‘need’ in travel has changed: in 2019, we’ve moved to experiential travel, from sight-seeing to sight-doing. The average passenger is getting younger, and yes, they need the connectivity.

The next 5 years will see more applications of sensory equipment coupled into AI technology that will further enhance personal needs. So, no matter what size of ship you are on, you have that feeling of being catered for personally, and you have a choice to turn it on or off.

What is one major up-and-coming cruise destination?
Expedition Cruising to the Arctic is going to be the real hot topic in the next few years. This type of cruising involves smaller ships taking intrepid passengers to destinations previously deemed unreachable. With the perfect combination of new global regulations protecting the environment coming into effect in the past two years and continuing to do so and the new breed of Expedition Vessels being developed and launched, many new routes across the Arctic, which has become a highly desired destination for experienced travellers, have been created.

Antarctica

Now let’s talk about your personal cruise experiences. What makes you prefer a cruise holiday over a land-only holiday?
One reason: choice. There are days I don’t want to do anything and remain in isolation with a book, and then there are others where I want to experience something new, and other days I just want to walk for hours in a new destination and cultural experience. No matter what mood I am in, I can do it all on a cruise, all without the hassle of any logistics that means the timeline of ‘my time’ is relaxed and extended.

These choices lead me to new life experiences. For example, I am not a foodie, but if I were to take a new potential girlfriend out on a date, I might take her to a fancy French restaurant to try and impress her. I’d open the menu and oh là là… I’m not familiar with anything on the menu. I would order something and may end up with an expensive bill that was wasted on a bad experience. But on cruise ships, I could try anything in the same way but this time, if I don’t like it, I can try something else all as part of the cost.

What are some of the most unbelievable features you’ve seen onboard a ship?
From Tattoo Parlours on next year’s Virgin Voyages, to Go-Kart racing on Norwegian Bliss, to live underwater viewing stations on PONANT and submersibles on Crystal Cruises, the limit of imagination has gone wild. It’s so exciting! Even last month, Carnival announced a new two-person roller-coaster circumnavigating above their vessel!

Onboard MSC Mergavillia during Launch

What would you tell cruise sceptics to make them feel comfortable to take a cruise for the first time?
My motto for potential first-time cruisers is “cruising is the tapas of travel”. From sampling multi-destinations and cultures, to onboard experiences. You can always go back to what you have found to love…but cruising gives you that chance. This is great for educating kids on new cultures without the worry of wasted effort! I do the same for entertainment shows, whether its comedy or a Broadway show. It’s all there for you. While you might not love it, you have had the opportunity to try it, taste it, experience it.

For the money-savvy travellers, think about the cost. You will save money compared to any alternative holiday once you factor in all the inclusions; I dare anyone to work out the cost per day of a cruise and compare it to the cost per day of their planned holiday. Cruise will always win, and adding the new experiences - often for free - that you don’t have to research and plan because it comes to you, it really is a no-brainer to try it once. But do make sure it is what YOU want. If you are just deciding a cruise on price alone, then you could fall into the trap of trying something not your normal style. Be discerning because when choose a cruise for you and your specific travel dreams, your needs will be met.

On another note, statistics show that many people avoid cruise as a holiday option as they are afraid of sea-sickness. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m prone to sea-sickness, despite living on the oceans for 12 years as a crew member, and have been in the industry over 20 years. When I’m onboard any vessel, even if on a ferry or waiting on a pontoon, I take tablet every morning, then go on about my day without a worry. If you’re really concerned that you’ll have trouble adjusting, try a river cruise or a cruise that is port-intensive - maybe with an itinerary that has 8 ports days out of 10. That way, you are cruising coastal and not subjective to open ocean.