Calling all cruisers: yesterday in New York at its State of the Industry Conference, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) released some very exciting news. The industry is moving full steam ahead: bookings are up (this year CLIA expects 17.6 million passengers in North America alone),cruises in Asia are expanding to meet the needs of China’s burgeoning middle class (there will be 7 million Chinese cruisers a year by 2020, according to Carnival Asia Chairman and CEO Pier Luigi Foschi), and nearly every line is introducing a new ship or revamp of some sort (read more in T+L Cruise Editor Jane Wooldridge’s recent piece).
Wondering where to go next? These two initiatives from CLIA may help you decide:
Cruise Forward, a website that aggregates information from member lines on the sustainability of cruising. It reveals their environmental practices, community building efforts, and other interesting tidbits (for example: several Carnival ships monitor their water quality through an alliance with Sea Keepers Society).
Cruise Industry TV, on YouTube—a great place to find videos on new ships, ports of call, insider tips for the high seas, and more.
Almost all cruise lines are making major waves in 2013. Here’s a preview of a few: you’ll find a Geoffrey Zakarian restaurant on the new Norwegian Breakaway (christening: May 8th in New York); Carnival Sunshine will undergo a $155-million revamp (replete with a Guy Fieri burger joint and gargantuan waterpark): Royal Caribbean is adding Barbie Premium Experience to select ships this month, in which kids ages 4-11 get to stay in Barbie-themed staterooms and take fashion design workshops; Seadream is introducing two new destinations (Asia and Costa Rica); and lastly, Azamara’s new AzAmazing Evenings program, through which guests have insider-access to port experiences they couldn’t get otherwise (dinner in a medieval castle, anyone?).
Kathryn O'Shea-Evans is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure.