Coming Soon to An Ocean Near You: A Cruise Industry Forecast

The cruise line industry has been attacked by all forms of media, painting a picture of dread and mutiny on the high seas. Forecasters predict troubled waters due to the ever prevalent chatter of safety problems, mechanical breakdowns, disease outbreaks, and other major issues du jour.

Wake From Cruise Ship

So What’s the Real Cruise Industry Forecast?

I personally believe all of that hype is overblown to sell news. After a plane crash, does the airline industry quiver in waiting for the other shoe to drop? When news of a terrible car accident hits the airwaves, do the highways clear out with everyone walking to work? Because they found horse in British meatballs, do I turn vegan?

As cynical as it sounds, we humans are a resilient bunch, and major issues becomes yesterday’s news as soon as the media force-feeds us something else to worry about.

Honestly, I would be more worried about the consumerism of mass America taking over the allure of the seas. Every major cruise line is bringing land onto sea; the Cake Boss dude has branded shops on Epic, famous city parks are replicated on board floating cities, Dreamworks and Nickelodeon have become the Disneylands of Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines. Where does this end?

Part of the magic of sailing is to disconnect. The seas are the last part of our world not conquered by mass consumerism. There is still a sense of wonder that evokes a simpler and more mystical time. There is still imagination and awe in finding the Valley of Diamonds or fighting off the giant roc. There is still a place for us to sleep with the balcony doors open and be serenaded by the gentle crashing waves sans iPod.

Unfortunately, the current cruise industry forecast suggests more and more land-based brands taking over the seas. In 5-10 years, the ocean will look just like the land, and there will be no place for us to escape the marketing amusement park of our era. I get why the cruises have to sell their nautical souls to an overstimulated public as that is what the consumer expects. So perhaps this piece is more of a reflection of the zeitgeist with the cruise lines falling victim to its prey.

That, I opine, is a much more dreadful decay of the cruise industry than a few negative PR stories blown out of proportion.

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  • Ben Compton

    The seas are vast enough to allow for the brilliant natural “disconnect” you speak of to happen on cruises around the world for years to come. The fact that the industry is currently under scrutiny, is not a bad thing in that there are indeed corrections that need to happen. But in the end, those corrections will happen. Government oversight and extensive media coverage will ensure that takes place. That’s a good thing, because the lure of the seas will be there and people will continue to seek that magical disconnect as the global population continues to grow. Conservation of the oceans is the biggest problem!

  • Scott Lassey

    You have so many great points Arthur and I really enjoyed reading your blog.

    I think a big difference between people flying, driving, and taking cruises is that cruises are seen as a luxury enjoyed by the few whereas flying and driving is seen as a necessity enjoyed by even the poor albeit after saving for many months and even years.

    I have never been on one of the luxury cruises for many of the reasons that you mentioned. The commercialism of the whole enterprise. Funny enough, this weekend I will be heading to Oman for a dhow cruise with a large group of friends (we live in Dubai). This is where we can escape the materialistic world of expensive cars, fast food chains, massive malls, and everything else that is superficial in out desert oasis. We can switch it all off and drift into the ocean blue.

  • Ryan Bleecher

    It is true that many of the larger registries are caving to branding. This has actually helped the cruise industry that was once looked at as something just for retirees. So I would say it is a case of taking the good with the bad. There are still many cruises where land brands have not yet invaded. Cruising the Hawaiian islands is just about cruising and seeing Hawaii. Princess cruises are still faithful high quality cruises. And for a truly relaxing non commercial experience, try Windjammer cruises.

  • Brenda

    You are right, but the quality of the cruise line come from how well you are being serve like you say taking good with the bad.We the customer want every experience to be truly unforgettable for all.

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