Whether you’re an experienced cruiser or are getting set for your first adventure on the seas, these days you can always expect to find a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities onboard. While luxury spas and touch-screen itineraries seemed space-age a mere 10 years ago, they’re now common features on a number of ships. Even so, exactly where the cruise industry is heading over the coming years is perhaps the most exciting aspect of all. To help you get a feel for the cruise ships of the future, we’ve looked into the latest designs trends and best cruise technology yet to come.

New experiences

The future of cruising is going to be a diverse place. The emergence of pioneering technologies brings the potential for cruisers to experience a vast new range of onboard activities. Cruise lines will continue to outdo each other, introducing more first at sea activities, such as Segway rides, state-of-the-art fitness suites and augmented reality systems, as well as drones. Hi-tech cruise ships will be the best way to travel by sea.

Also set to grow is the number of onboard aquariums, alongside the introduction of innovative underwater viewing facilities that will show you the world below the waves in warmth and comfort. Dining will continue to play a key role on ships, as the number of celebrity chefs and exclusive onboard dining areas looks set to increase over the coming decade alone.

Perhaps the most surprising prediction comes from the growing trend for learning and educational facilities onboard. Whether you’re keen to become acquainted with the latest technologies or are hoping to sharpen your culinary skills at sea, experts suggest that there will be more opportunities than ever for guests to learn something new.

Each cruise line is looking to do something a little different. For example, part of the future plan of Holland America Line sees the potential for gyms to incorporate indoor cycling rooms, suspension training facilities and medi-spas. Meanwhile, Royal Caribbean® continues to dazzle as the premier entertainment cruise line in the world, with its robotic barmen and massive 270-degree HD screens set to be complemented by virtual balconies that connect to live feeds of the external sea views of the cruise ship.

Changing technologies

Some of the most drastic changes are expected to come in the form of new technologies, continuing the trend for cruise ships to pioneer the latest gadgets before they are adopted by the travel industry on a wider scale. Perhaps the most exciting of these innovations is the virtual reality headset, forecast to become commonplace on cruise ships within the next decade.

As cruise ships continue to stay ahead of the digital curve, many industry insiders are also predicting a huge increase in free connectivity while at sea.

Cruisers can also expect to witness the demise of the traditional cabin card, in favour of state-of-the-art wristbands equipped with the latest Near Field Communication (NFC) technology. As well as allowing passengers to keep important personal information on themselves at all times, the wristbands also look set to make family holidays a little bit easier by offering parents the chance to track children while onboard.

Similarly, a new Bluetooth object the size of a coin called the Ocean Medallion is said to be making its way to Princess Cruises, with Carnival closely following. It grants access to your cabin, as well as paperless payment, and can even be used by service staff to locate you onboard the ship. For instance, you could order a drink anywhere and have it whisked to you wherever you roam onboard.

Undiscovered destinations

The range of destinations you can expect to book a cruise to is continuing to grow, with Asia proving particularly fertile ground nowadays. Antarctica and Alaska look set to grow in popularity too, particularly for younger cruisers. Luckily, the trend doesn’t look set to spell the end of European cruises. Many experts expect cruise lines to add more variation to existing itineraries, breathing new life into established routes. What’s more, there’s growing interest in Africa and islands like Madagascar too.

The demand to access new destinations will no doubt have an impact on cruise ship design. More colourful and vibrant designs, incorporating art, advertising and ways by which cruise lines can be more easily distinguished from one another at a distance, are becoming a big part of the future of cruising. Similarly, engines are taking a turn for the better thanks to more advances in green energy. Carnival is already implementing cruise ships powered entirely by LNG, or Liquefied Natural Gas, which is a much cleaner fuel than those used before.

Dickelbers / commons.wikimedia.org

Changing demographics

As ships continue to modernise, cruise lines are keen to attract a new era of young, tech-savvy travellers. Premium space onboard also looks set to evolve, with the introduction of more ‘shared’ areas that allow for single spaces to be used for a number of different purposes. Office spaces are among the most popular choices here, enabling high-speed online access and a place for networking to make the most of business opportunities made among your fellow guests onboard.

There is also a predicted increase to the emphasis on ‘hyper-individuality’ on cruise ships. As cruise lines compete to provide a highly personalised experience for travellers, everything from food and drink to leisure and entertainment activities look set to become increasingly tailored to each individual. With the data collated by the smart devices we talked about acting as identifiers, such as wristbands and the Ocean Medallion, service staff will be able to cater every detail of your voyage to your preferences.

While it’s impossible to accurately predict exactly where the cruise industry is heading in the future, current trends suggest that more will be done to modernise the cruising experience and attract a growing number of young travellers. Yet even cruise ship veterans will be welcomed into the fold, and however you choose to cruise, you can feel comforted by the certainty that your favourite lines are doing all they can to push the envelope of what’s possible.

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