MONTREAL, Feb. 21, 2020 /CNW/ - Cruises have docked on the shores of beautiful countries for decades, giving passengers exclusive access to specific beaches, experiences and comforts. The cruise industry now plans to offer its customers even more. Cruise companies are looking into ecotourism investments, building theme parks, tapping into meditation, wellness holidays and more on private islands.
Travelers book cruises for a variety of reasons. Some prefer certain routes. Others choose based on onboard amenities. Some pick cruise lines based on reputation, while others prioritize affordability. Diversification and expansion serve 2 purposes: to provide clients with a more complete value offering and to bolster competitiveness.
People want to travel in meaningful yet environmentally friendly ways. In fact, the 2018 Sustainable Travel Report published by booking.com revealed that 72% of travelers think people should act now to make more sustainable travel choices to conserve the planet for generations to come.
Ocean Cay MSC Marine Reserve, part of the Bimini chain of Bahamian islands, came to fruition after 4 years of restoration. A short time before, the same land was almost barren, used mostly for excavation and depositing waste from surrounding areas. The island reserve now boasts:
- Nearly 80,000 plants and trees
- Water activities (including coral planting)
- Local food
- 8 beaches
- Artisanal crafts
- Spa and relaxation services
- Marine life education
MSC also has plans to request that the waters surrounding the island be deemed a marine reserve. In addition, the Swiss cruise company has doubled down their conservation efforts, with a renewed focus on marine life. Several marine biologists will also be hired to run MSC's island bio-center and coral nursery.
Michelle McGregor, Ocean Cay Operations Manager stated, "Ocean Cay was founded on strong environmental principles that illustrate our approach to developing cruise ecotourism."
Some cruise lines are taking private island experiences in a different yet no less expansive direction. Royal Caribbean invested more than $250 million into revamping another Bahamian Island—Coco Cay. Unlike MSC's ecotourism approach, Royal Caribbean's island efforts aim to take the cruise ship experience to the land. Here's how:
- A record setting waterpark
- A helium balloon ride
- Cabanas on the water
- A laser tag facility
- Mobile observation decks
- Robot bartenders
It's the first of a series of private islands Royal Caribbean plans to transform into holiday experiences for cruisers. Other cruise lines are headed down a similar path. Some plan to offer exclusive parties, lagoon-inspired pools, food trucks, lounges and bars. In addition, they'll also have bonfires, DJs, hammock groves, nightlife and more.
According to Brittany Chrusciel of Cruise Critic, "As more cruise lines invest in them, private islands are proving to be a desirable port offering for many passengers … Private islands offer a way for cruisers to slow down and relax; there's not as much pressure to jam-pack their day in port, and they can use their downtime to slow down and decompress."
Cruises are a staple in the travel industry. While many cruises have gone above and beyond to make the onboard portion of their businesses memorable, many now have plans to take it a step further on land. Including private islands as a part of cruises is a subtle industry shift. However, in the long term, it may become a major turning point for cruise travel.
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