According to Silversea Cruises CEO, Barbara Muckermann, the luxury cruise industry has evolved over the past few years with different demographics now cruising.
Guests expected consistent service levels on luxury cruise ships during the 1990s.
“We examined hotel standards to determine the length of time a waiter needed to spend serving coffee. In her words, that was luxury: having the exact same luxurious experience everywhere you go.
A boomer generation now replaces a silent generation, causing standards in the industry to shift.
According to her, a luxury vacation might just include “drinking cheap rosé with locals in Portugal,” she said, noting that travelers now want to try food, understand culture, and immerse themselves in the destination.
Muckermann says booking curves have also changed recently.
Luxury trips used to have to be booked two to three years in advance. This guest was the most predictable on the planet, which made our revenue managers super happy.”
The pandemic, however, changed the behavior of passengers.
Guests now book with much less notice, and some even show up at a port to try to get a cabin for the same day’s cruise.
It’s impossible to understand what’s driving behaviors, even though we realize that there is a strong pent-up demand.
Silversea Cruises’ guests are increasingly interested in destinations in the polar regions, says Muckermann.
This season, the brand will offer three vessels in the Arctic and Antarctica following the acquisition of a new ice-strengthened ship, the Silver Endeavour, in 2022.
Antarctica has been visited by fewer than one million people in all of human history. The destination is small, new, and amazing,” she said.
During the 1950s, when world jets first opened up new destinations to the masses, Muckermann compared the role of expedition ships to that of jets today.
She pointed out that luxury expeditions bring high-end comforts to these remote locations, adding that luxury is contextual. The experience of drinking champagne in the United States might not seem like a luxury, but having it in Antarctica, surrounded by incredible nature and watching penguins leap, certainly is.
Because they are the ultimate frontier, I think polar regions are not only the new thing but here to stay.
In spite of customers not knowing what luxury cruise lines offer, new brands entering the industry can help the industry, Muckermann said. The new players help open up the cruising category to new customers, as it is a tiny part of the luxury travel industry.
This opportunity is not a competition between travel advisor partners or a way to kill them. We are able to discover 70 percent of our planet in these beautiful hotels that are moving along the oceans.”
In addition to offering more than just a beach resort, cruises can compete with luxury tour operators as “safaris at sea,” Muckermann noted.
“Not only will you find beautiful beaches here, but you’ll also find authentic food and diverse attractions,” she said.