Why 2020 should be the year you finally go on a cruise
Cruising used to be one of those "love it or hate it" type of vacations — but not anymore. It's time to let go of the stereotypes that cruises are meant for young families or older generations and welcome new concepts coming from trendy brands like Virgin and Ritz-Carlton. This week on "Talking Points," we find out why vacationing on the open seas is something worth trying out.3 key takeaways from this episode:
- Cruise Lines are taking action to reduce their environmental impact
- Options are endless; passengers can be as flexible or plan as much as they want
- Cruises can be for anyone — even solo travelers on a budget
Andy Stuart, the CEO and President of Norwegian Cruise Line, joins the podcast to explain what it's like to run what he calls a "complex floating hotel," how cruise lines drive loyalty and where Norwegian is making strides in sustainable practices onboard. Stuart has been with the cruise line for the past 30 years and shares how Norwegian continues to innovate their ships and tailor options for every type of traveler."It's never 100% perfect, but we do try to give everyone the choice to do things the way they like to do it. Some people are planners, right? They want to plan every moment of every day," he says. "Other people are spur of the moment, 'Hey, I want to do this, that and the other.' So we balance inventory to meet the needs of both those groups."Norwegian Encore, the line's latest and largest ship at nearly 170,000 tons, is loaded with entertainment options. From Broadway musical “Kinky Boots” to an 1,150 foot go-kart track that extends 13 feet off the ship, passengers can curate their cruise experience however they want. Stuart says that if they cannot provide options that are as good as on land, they don't want to provide it at all."It used to be that with cruising, everything was sort of not quite as good. We've got to be as good as the best restaurants in New York, we've got to be as good as the best shows on Broadway. Our virtual reality has got to be as good as anything that's going on in any of the theme parks around the world. The race track has to be better than a racetrack that you would go to in your local town," he says.Not only is Norwegian Encore the largest ship in their fleet, it's also the first to eliminate single-use plastic water bottles. Norwegian partnered with Just Goods to provide water bottles that are 100% recyclable and made mostly from paper and plant-based plastic. These bottles will roll out fleet wide by Jan. 1, 2020, which Stuart says will eliminate the use of 6 million plastic bottles per year.
Related: How to book a cruise using points and milesCruise Lines have to be creative when it comes to loyalty. For one, people aren't taking a cruise every week or even every year. Passenger capacity on cruises only accounted to 28.5 million in 2018, according to a report from the Cruise Lines International Association, whereas 2.7 million people fly every day. Stuart says Norwegian's loyalty program is all about providing members with a better on-board experience, such as priority embarkation.Tune into this episode to hear more from Stuart on why you should consider cruising with Norwegian no matter if you're vacationing with your family or taking a solo trip, which route he recommends TPG takes, and how the cruise line responds to natural disasters.Play this episode above, or wherever you get your podcasts.Feature image by Norwegian Cruise Line