59 Cruise Ship Features of the Future
The futurist looks to the horizon of luxury travel on the sea
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
- CRUISE CARDS
These will be replaced by Bluetooth bands, smartphone scans and facial recognition
Already nearly gone
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
- PAPER RECEIPTS
Enormous waste of time and materials
- HUMAN BARTENDERS
The robots are coming.
59 THINGS YOU'LL BE ABLE TO DO ON FUTURE CRUISE SHIPS THAT YOU CAN'T TODAY
- Biometric check-in process
- Biometric door locks with facial recognition
- Biometric purchases – digital identification
- Health scans
- Onboard drone airport – For supply delivery, to passenger delivery, to entertainment
- 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
- Drone docks on balconies – For food deliveries, laundry, flower delivery
- Drone ambulances
- Drone taxis with multiple landing pads
- Drone firework launches
- Laser drone skeet shooting
- Video/photo drone rentals to capture excursion experiences
- Behind-the-scenes tours of the galley, bridge and engine rooms
- Video games
- 3D art training
- Education classes
- Speed dating
- Preview of future excursions
- Sensor-laced interactive clothing
- Smart swimsuits
- Smart beds
- Immersive sleep capsules
- Menu-chef coordination at restaurants
- Sleep-optimizers to control environmental factors, such as heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, etc.
- Selection of entertainment based on moods, ratings and personal preferences
- Music selection based on moods, ratings and tastes
- Pay with cryptocurrencies
- Cryptocurrency safes or digital vaults
- Prototyping classes
- 3D modeling software classes
- Make your own jewelry
- Make your own pottery
- Make your own accessories
- Make your own IoT devices
- Create your own music/audio studios
- Create your own video studios
- Full-body scans for 3D printing
- 3D printed makeup – insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user
- Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers
- Scan and 3D print your own custom designed clothing
- Develop and print your own custom designed shoes
- 3D printed sculptures of you and your family
- Expectant mothers can 3D printed models of their unborn baby
- Trash can be sorted, cleaned and turned into new materials
- Cellphone to cellphone communications
- Robotic food preparation
- Auto-swinging hammocks
- Telepresence rooms
- Beer yoga
- AI scrapbooking to give you a personal record of your trip
- Order products on Amazon and have them delivered to the ship
- Cannabis cooking classes
- Hatchet throwing competitions
- Video game tournaments
- 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.