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59 Cruise Ship Features of the Future

The Futurists looks to the horizon of luxury travel by the sea


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I always think when I’m on a cruise I’ll be able to catch up on all the writing projects I‘m behind on; alas, that somehow never happens.

Every ship is full of distractions and unusual forms of entertainment designed to keep the crowds coming back for more. So far, it has been working very well on me.

With 27.2 million passengers projected for 2018 and only 20 percent of U.S. citizens having ever taken a cruise, there is an enormous untapped market left to conquer. The industry has seen 2,100 percent growth since the 1970s, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

A record 27 new ships are set to debut in 2018. Along with new ships comes a fierce competition to “out design,” “out tech,” and “out class” the competition.

But being out on the ocean creates its own set of challenges when it comes to accessing technology, which has put cruise ships behind land-based attractions in terms of digital attractions. Recently, however, cruise lines have dedicated more resources to increasing the connectedness of their vessels.

As networks improve, suddenly the sky is the limit for competing with inland resorts. 

KEY INDUSTRY TRENDS

  • PUSHING THE ENVELOPE

Island-hopping is so yesterday. Next-generation cruisers will be looking for that unique one-of-a-kind experience to tell their friends about. Whether its underwater caving or playing with swarmbots or eating dinner made from glowing energy balls, or sleeping on touchless airbeds.

  • MULTIGENERATIONAL CRUISING

This is projected to increase in popularity in 2018 and beyond – but with a twist: More grandparents and grandchildren will travel together, without the parents.

  • HEALTH + WELLNESS CRUISES

Travellers are seeking health and wellness experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travellers can participate in on-board wellness seminars led by popular experts, custom fitness programs, stress management and spa services.

  • WORKING VACATIONS

Future cruises will span the spectrum from super connected to the super unconnected, with some going so far as to billing themselves as “interventionist retreats” with 12-step programs to help cure those suffering from severe online addiction.

  • COLD CLIMATE CRUISES

Destinations like the Baltics, Canada, Alaska and Antarctica are becoming growing in appeal. With unusual excursions ranging from penguin watching to ice fishing, these regions are drawing new and repeat cruise travelers.

  • ON A BUDGET

Though the average age of today's cruise passenger is more than 50 years old with a median household income of $109,000, a recent survey showed 33 percent of those who took a cruise within the last three years have a household income of under $80,000.

  • OCEAN CRUISES ADD MORE CAPACITY THAN RIVER CRUISES

As the industry grows, cruise lines will invest more heavily in ocean-going vessels that attract younger generations. In the next nine years, investment into riverboats is expected to fall to nearly zero. 

  • SMART TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

The coming year will see a rise in traveler-friendly on-board technologies. Several cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that will provide a personalized and seamless experiences on board.

SIX FEATURES THAT WILL DISAPPEAR

  1. CRUISE CARDS

These will be replaced by Bluetooth bands, smartphone scans and facial recognition

  1. CASH

Already nearly gone

  1. GAMBLING

With the rise of artificial intelligence, gambling, in it’s current form, will not survive.

4.MASSAGE SHOWER HEADS

Next-gen shower heads will be far cooler

  1. PAPER RECEIPTS

Enormous waste of time and materials

  1. HUMAN BARTENDERS

The robots are coming.

59 THINGS YOU'LL BE ABLE TO DO ON FUTURE CRUISE SHIPS THAT YOU CAN'T TODAY

  1. Biometric check-in process
  2. Biometric door locks with facial recognition
  3. Biometric purchases – digital identification
  4. Health scans 
  5. Onboard drone airport – For supply delivery, to passenger delivery, to entertainment
  6. Drone boarding – For elite guests, passengers will skip the boarding process entirely and be flown directly onto the ship. Eventually this will happen even when ships are at sea
  7. Drone docks on balconies – For food deliveries, laundry, flower delivery
  8. Drone ambulances
  9. Drone taxis with multiple landing pads
  10. Drone firework launches
  11. Laser drone skeet shooting
  12. Video/photo drone rentals to capture excursion experiences
  13. Behind-the-scenes tours of the galley, bridge and engine rooms
  14. Movies
  15. Video games
  16. 3D art training
  17. Education classes
  18. Therapy
  19. Speed dating
  20. Preview of future excursions
  21. Sensor-laced interactive clothing
  22. Smart swimsuits
  23. Smart beds
  24. Immersive sleep capsules
  25. Menu-chef coordination at restaurants
  26. Sleep-optimizers to control environmental factors, such as heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, etc.
  27. Selection of entertainment based on moods, ratings and personal preferences
  28. Music selection based on moods, ratings and tastes
  29. Pay with cryptocurrencies
  30. ATMs
  31. Loans
  32. Cryptocurrency safes or digital vaults
  33. Prototyping classes
  34. 3D modeling software classes
  35. Make your own jewelry
  36. Make your own pottery
  37. Make your own accessories
  38. Make your own IoT devices
  39. Create your own music/audio studios
  40. Create your own video studios
  41. Full-body scans for 3D printing
  42. 3D printed makeup – insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user
  43. Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers
  44. Scan and 3D print your own custom designed clothing
  45. Develop and print your own custom designed shoes
  46. 3D printed sculptures of you and your family
  47. Expectant mothers can 3D printed models of their unborn baby
  48. Trash can be sorted, cleaned and turned into new materials
  49. Cellphone to cellphone communications
  50. Robotic food preparation
  51. Auto-swinging hammocks
  52. Telepresence rooms
  53. Beer yoga
  54. AI scrapbooking to give you a personal record of your trip
  55. Order products on Amazon and have them delivered to the ship
  56. Cannabis cooking classes 
  57. Hatchet throwing competitions
  58. Video game tournaments
  59. Self-filling water bottles with built-in atmospheric water harvesters

FUTURE FLOATING ISLANDS

Another possible game changer for the cruise industry will be floating islands.

Starting in 2008 as a libertarian approach to opting out of traditional governance, the Seasteading Institute settled on 2020 as the launch date for a floating city off French Polynesia, where it hopes to use a “startup” ethos to eventually create a climate-friendly, small-government alternative to land-based nations.

Working with the French Polynesian government, construction will begin on the first of 15 floating platforms. The domed, greenery-filled platforms will each be roughly the size of a baseball diamond, and can be rearranged to connect to different points on the floating city’s framework.

The first “city” is expected to house approximately 300 people, but the ultimate goal is to bring in people from various countries to launch new, ocean-based nations.

While the building of island nations is on the other end of the spectrum of today’s luxury cruise industry, there will be an obvious meeting of the minds as floating city technology matures.

With plans to add a variety of resort features including underwater restaurants and aquarium bedrooms with glass wall, the traditional cruise industry will be paying close attention.

Modern cruising is a relatively new industry with most ship designs developing in the 1970s.

Look for cruise ports to become status symbols as economic development groups offer incentives for cruise lines to offer more routes that include their city.

As the average age of passengers drops and cruise lines attract more working executives, companies will view these ships as fresh channels for introducing new products. Whether its food, household gadgets, IoT devices, software, hardware or anything else, people are continually fascinated by cutting edge products. This will open the doors for sponsorship arrangements with companies who otherwise have little connection to the cruise industry.

In addition to being a floating resort, next generation cruise ships will operate as a working laboratory for companies to research the ultimate cruise experience for every one of their passengers.

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Thomas Frey

Thomas Frey is the executive director and senior futurist at the DaVinci Institute and currently Google’s top-rated futurist speaker.  At the Institute, he has developed original research studies, enabling him to speak on unusual topics, translating trends into unique opportunities. Tom continually pushes the envelope of understanding, creating fascinating images of the world to come.  His talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level of government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Unilever, GE, Blackmont Capital, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Ford Motor Company, Qwest, Allied Signal, Hunter Douglas, Direct TV, Capital One, National Association of Federal Credit Unions, STAMATS, Bell Canada, American Chemical Society, Times of India, Leaders in Dubai, and many more. Before launching the DaVinci Institute, Tom spent 15 years at IBM as an engineer and designer where he received over 270 awards, more than any other IBM engineer.

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