With craft beer and cocktails, high-speed wi-fi hotspots and mobile apps, celebrity chefs and Broadway shows on board, the cruise industry has stepped up its efforts to appeal to the demanding young adult market, part of the Millennial Generation that represents an estimated US$ 1.3 billion in annual revenue.
The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) identified a surge in the number of millennial travelers during the beginning of the year as the industry’s key trend for the year 2014.
The most recent market profile study released by the trade association in 2011 showed that the average age of a cruise passenger was 50 years of age, and only 7% were between 25 and 29 years old.
While the cruise industry has for some time now been steering away from its traditional model of catering to senior citizen market, cruise line operators explore ways of diversifying their entertainment, food and beverage and activity offerings, as well as exploring new itineraries.
“Cruising is adapting to this generation by adding features that will appeal to a lot of people — but are must-haves if you want to get a millennial on a cruise ship,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of the website CruiseCritic.com.
This target public is comprised by an 18-34 age group, and it is estimated that between 80 and 90 million people are part of this generation. This group is characterized for being tech-savvy, global in world view, careful about spending and keen for new experiences, according to experts.
“Affordable adventures are a huge theme for millennials,” said Jeff Fromm, president of millennial-focused consultancy FutureCast. This group has a greater desire than any other generation before it to visit every continent, values experience over brand status – and demands to be capable of sharing these experiences quickly on their social networks.
Consequently, this makes them the ideal target audience for cruise lines that promote, the possibility of visiting several destinations and offer a range of options which allow young employees with little vacation time to go on a weekend getaway.
Meanwhile companies like Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and Norwegian Cruise Lines have historically offered three to four day excursions, other brands are introducing shorter voyages.
For the upcoming Quantum of the Seas and Anthem of the Seas, Royal Caribbean International is partnering with British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and Miami’s Michael Schwartz, who has already created “farm-to-ship” menus for restaurants on two other vessels in the company’s fleet.
“This new generation is so much more educated about food and beverage and cocktails and the people who are making them,” said Frank Weber, Norwegian’s vice president of product development, at a recent launch event at the bar. “People are looking for local experiences, authentic ingredients.”
On the other hand, Norwegian’s President and CEO Kevin Sheehan added that the cruise lines’ current paradigm lets the consumer partake in activities at their own pace aiming to appeal to younger travelers.