If it’s not on Instagram, did your vacation actually happen?
The authentic, off-the-beaten-path, Instagrammable vacation is what vacationers want today, according to recent studies.
In cruising terms, this translates to small ports, far-flung locals and activities they won’t find on every single mega-ship.
Cruises are obliging.
They’re taking travellers to destinations that include the Galapagos Islands, French Polynesia, Cuba and even Antarctica.
“There is a special allure for Americans due to Cuba being a forbidden travel destination for so many decades,” says Laura Carlson, principal travel advisor in Houston. “The Galapagos Islands are amazing because the animals have no fear of humans, so you are standing about 5 feet away from them while they pose for your photos. Additionally, Antarctica is a popular destination and books up fast.”
Formerly, a Caribbean cruise—which is an easy, accessible vacation for anyone and everyone —was the go-to for cruisers. But today, new and seasoned cruisers are taking on the complicated spots, craving the previously inaccessible locations.
According to the International Association of Antarctica Tour Operators, visitor numbers making shore landings in Antarctica reached close to 52,000 during the 2017/2018 season, an increase of 17 per cent from the previous year.
This is despite of—or because of—the fact that the ships may only carry a maximum of 500 visitors at a time, and only one ship can visit each site. There is a maximum number of ship visits daily, with no more than 100 passengers onshore at a time.
And then there’s the journey itself.
“Accessing the Antarctic Peninsula involves two days at sea crossing the infamous Drake Passage—this is a notoriously unpredictable stretch of ocean,” says Frances Armitage, senior PR executive at Chimu Adventures in Sydney. “We are living in an increasingly experiential society, and Antarctica has ultimate bragging rights, yet is still a safe and accessible thing to do if you have the money and time.”
Even the ships travelling to more popular destinations like Mexico or the Caribbean are working hard to create the off-the-beaten-path experiences on and off the water to attract vacationers.
For example, Seabourn and Holland America are some of the ships that stop at Dominica, where visitors can tour the volcanic mountains, rainforests and geothermal springs. Princess cruises stop at Bequia, which is a 7-mile island where you can visit the open-air food market to try the local cuisine or check out the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary.
Many people are opting to extend their trip with a land-based tour for a few days either before or after the trip, says Jenni Fielding, marketing manager at Cruise 118 in the UK. More than half—or 57 per cent—of cruisers extend their vacations in the port cities, and 68 per cent of millennials do this, according to the Cruise Lines International Association study.
“Seasoned cruisers are looking for something new. Not just new port of call, but also new land-based experiences when they get there,” Fielding says.
They’re also choosing ships that offer onboard experiences that can’t be found elsewhere.
Carnival Vista just added the RedFrog Pub and Brewery, which creates beer out of desalinated seawater. And on Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas, former Olympians perform in its water acrobat show.
Now that is something you can brag about on Instagram.
Carnival Cruise Line announced the inaugural schedule Tuesday for the transformed Carnival Radiance, including the company’s first sailings to Cuba from New York and Norfolk, Virginia.
In addition, Carnival revealed the upgraded ship will also sail nine- to 13-day European voyages, four- to nine-day sailings to the Caribbean, voyages to Canada/New England from New York and a winter season of adventures to the Caribbean and Cuba from Port Canaveral, Florida.
Once the Carnival Radiance debuts following it’s $200 million transformations in 2020, it will sail several Mediterranean itineraries before a trans-Atlantic crossing and finally a homeporting in New York City.
As for the Cuba sailings, Carnival will offer nine-day itineraries from New York that include a full-day and overnight stay in Havana and two Bahamian ports of call. As for the cruises to Cuba from Virginia, the week-long Cuba sailing will feature an extended stop in the capital of Havana along with visits to two tropical Bahamian ports.
In November 2020, the Carnival Radiance will reposition to Port Canaveral and operate a winter schedule of six- to eight-day voyages to the Caribbean and Cuba, including six-day voyages featuring a day-long visit and overnight call in Havana and two Bahamian ports.
The cruise line also revealed details of Carnival Sunrise’s 2020 schedule, including an expanded series of New York to Cuba cruises, as well as four- to nine-day voyages to the Caribbean from New York and Norfolk.
Carnival Cruise Line is returning to Europe in 2020 with revamped ship Carnival Radiance.
The vessel will sail in the Mediterranean from Barcelona from April 29, 2020, following a $200 million refit in dry dock in Cadiz.
Carnival Radiance will run a ten-day itinerary followed by nine-and 12-day departures visiting destinations throughout the region, including Italy, France, Croatia, Greece, Malta and Spain.
The ship will then embark on a 13-day transatlantic crossing from Barcelona on June 11 to 24, to be in place for an inaugural season in New York, including the first Cuba cruises from the city.
The ship will also offer four five- to seven-day voyages from Norfolk, Virginia, in October and November 2020, also including calls into Cuba.
Carnival Radiance will reposition to Port Canaveral in Florida to sail a winter schedule of six- to eight-day cruises to the Caribbean and Cuba from November 8, 2020.
Carnival Radiance and Carnival Sunrise will each undergo extensive refits in 2019 and 2020 respectively to add new food, drink and entertainment options, including aqua parks and an open-air recreation complex.
The new-look Carnival Sunrise will operate a series of long weekend cruises from New York to Bermuda as well as longer Caribbean voyages and calls into Cuba from May 21, 2020.
The line also has three new ships due for delivery – the 133,500-ton Carnival Panorama set to enter service in 2019 and two as-yet-unnamed 180,000-ton ships in 2020 and 2022.