As a new year comes into focus, so do predictions for the current market trends. Here’s a look at what FROSCH thinks will be trending for the cruise industry in 2016.

Cruisers Want to be Explorers Not Tourists

More and more cruise travelers are seeking to learn, do, and feel connection to the cities they are visiting while in port, rather than just seeking fun-in-the-sun. Cruise line Azamara started the trend a few years ago, when it added overnight stays to interested places visited mid-journey that weren’t just pre- and post- cruise ports. Now more lines are following Azamara’s lead, creating their own experiential offerings. For instance, Seabourn is featuring a handful of mid-cruise journeys off its ships to places that aren’t easily accessed by ocean vessels. Royal Caribbean has introduced a new, “Come Seek” program, which emphasizes local experience in port, and Holland America announced that it’s partnering with Afar, an experientially oriented travel magazine, to provide its customers with travel tips and advice. We see this trend being carried out in 2016 and long into the future as more and more travels want to indulge in different cultures of the exotic places they visit instead of just soaking up the sun on their upcoming cruises.

New Destination Hot Spots

In 2016, we see cruising around Austrialia and New Zealand being very popular with North American cruise travelers. The economy is improving, which is encouraging longer and bigger splurges. The cruise industry is also taking a massive interest in growing cruising in the Asia/South Pacific region, which will mean newer vessels with up-to-date amenities. Seabourn Odyssey, Celebrity Solstice, and Holland America’s Noordam are already offering more itineraries there. Other new hot spots we foresee include Costa Rica and Cuba, although big-ship lines still don’t have permission from the Cuban government, however small-ship lines are already serving the marking on a seasonal basis.

Cruise Lines Will Target More All-Inclusive Pricing Strategies

Cruise lines are trying to get rid of the perception that they are nickel-and-diming cruisers, who vernally have to pay out of pocket for cocktails, gambling, shore excursions, internet, and spa amenities. The recent laws surrounding online gambling in California have made them rethink their gambling protocols since people were just doing it on their phones out of preference. Cruise lines are starting to offer a discounted rate for paying up from for extra charges, and also offering special packages for passengers who book applicable cruises. Norwegian is offering a “Freestyle Choice” which offers a Wi-Fi and a cocktail package, but also adds shore excursions and specialty restaurant entry fees to the menu of possibilities.

Small Ship Cruising Will Start Gaining Steam

In 2016, we see a lot of growth in small ship cruising. Small ships are able to enter undiscovered ports and offer more intimate and service-oriented onboard experiences. Mainstream luxury line, Crystal Cruises is introducing Crystal Yacht Cruises this year, with a 62-passenger ship sailing this summer in Europe’s Adriatic.

– Read also: Cruise Ship Lawyers.

Brand Names Continuing to Dominate Cruise Lines

In the past few years, we’ve seen brand names become infused with cruises. In 2016, we predict we will continue to see an evolution of the partnership-with-brands trend toward pairing cruise lines with companies that could materially influence the experience, both on-board and in port. Princess Cruises’ has partnered with Discovery Channel, and has onboard activities inspired by programs like “MythBusters,” Deadliest Catch,” and “Shark Week.” This upcoming year, Holland America is teaming up with BBC Earth, and will start to feature ramped-up enrichment onboard and more immersive tours. We predict we’ll see cruise line partnerships continue onboard and off, such as Norwegian introducing Jimmy Buffett’s first Margaritaville at Sea.

Passengers Won’t Have to Live Without Wi-Fi

Cruise lines are making major investments in creating new technologies that make at-sea Internet fast and more efficient, especially because most cruise passengers don’t want to be disconnected completely during the duration of their cruise. Most lines now offer package plans to cruisers, but Regent Seven Seas will offer free, unlimited Wi-Fi in 2016 to all passengers on its luxury ships. Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas will also be the first mass-market ship to offer Wi-Fi for free. We predict other cruise lines will jump onboard with offering free Wi-Fi in order to keep their passengers happy.

Passengers Will Get to Experience the Latest Technology

The future is now. Robot bartenders are becoming mainstream on cruise ships, and the technology available to passengers is only going to keep advancing. We predict soon, passengers will be able to use their smartphones to order room service and to open their stateroom doors with the flick of their wrists. MCS Cruises already has bracelets that allow passengers to purchase goods on board, unlock rooms, and check-in for activities or entertainment on the ship. The cruise line can even push information to make sure passengers don’t miss the next show or special deal at the ship’s spa or dining facilities. We see this becoming more and more popular on all major cruise lines in the near future.

The Rise of High-End Restaurant

Cruises in the past seem to have garnered a bad reputation for mediocre meals served at a set time, but we predict that in 2016, the industry will continue to recognize that traveler’s palettes have become more sophisticated. One of the biggest trends we are already starting to see is “foodcations,” so it’s very important to have celebrity chefs on board and specialty restaurants.

With that said, there is no time like the present to plan an amazing Cruise.  Never before have there been so many options and amenities.  So jump on board and lets go cruising!