Cruise Industry Outlook: Next Decade and Beyond


The future of the cruise industry does not seem to be slowing down, rather it is strong and confident in its new ships, safety regulations, new technology, respect for the environment and investment in emerging markets. The cruise industry continues to grow with more than 50 passenger vessels scheduled to be built between 2013 and 2015. Cruise lines continue to adapt and as a result the cruise industry has a very positive future.


Future Conduct of Cruise Ship Captains and Crew

Future of Cruise Ship Code of Conduct for Crew – The cruise ship’s code of conduct has always been in place for officers and crew to abide by. The future environment onboard continues to get more strict as crew parties are monitored and the over consumption of alcohol is not tolerated. Evidence of excessive partying or inappropriate behaviour that show up on YouTube and Facebook will also damage a career of a crewmember.

Non-Social Cruise Ship Captains – In the future, cruise ship captains will most likely decrease their public presence and social interaction around the ship. Most captains and senior officers are very aware of the power of social media and the fact that everyone has a camera or phone to take a photo or record a conversation. Captains must watch every public move they make such as where they have their dinner, if they choose to have a drink, conversations they have with passengers, and photos they decide to be in.


Safety and Security on Cruise Ships in the Future

Safety Procedures on Cruise Ships – As a result of the Costa Concordia accident, cruise lines reinforced their commitment to safety on board in 2012. The future will continue to see safety regulations and procedures being followed and action taken when they’re not. Case in point is the passengers that were disembarked in 2012 for not attending the muster drill.

Onboard Safety Training – Ongoing on board safety training has been a requirement of SOLAS for many decades. This will continue to be an integral part of working on board as captains, cruise ship safety officers, and port/flag state control officers ensure that crewmembers are knowledgeable in their emergency duties as well as what to do in case of an emergency.

SOLAS 2010 Amendments – SOLAS 2010 will continue to be phased in as new ships are introduced and older ships are retired because they don’t comply. Regulations include the use of non-combustible materials in the construction of ships, removal of asbestos, fire regulations on balconies, additional sprinklers and fire insulation. Cruise ships built before SOLAS 1974 will need to undergo costly changes to be compliant with SOLAS 2010.

STCW 2010 Compliant – After July 1, 2013, new seafarers will need to be in full STCW 2010 compliance (rather than STCW95). Present Mariners with STCW-95 endorsements will be good until July 1, 2013.  If mariners want to upgrade or increase the scope of their endorsements between July 1 2013 and the final deadline date of January 1, 2017 they may be required to complete further education and training.

Future of Security Regulations on Cruise Ships – In July 2010, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act was signed into law. It clarifies existing cruise line policies such as how cruise lines report allegations of crime, 42-inch railings, on board video surveillance and cabin peepholes. Ironically, video surveillance is increasingly beneficial for the cruise lines to protect themselves against passengers that claim foul play and try to sue, when in fact CCTV footage may prove the passenger guilty.


Technology on Cruise Ships of the Future

Faster Internet on Cruise Ships – Royal Caribbean entered a multi-year, multi-million dollar agreement in 2012 with O3b Networks. O3b Networks will provide high speed satellite broadband service on board the Oasis of the Seas by summer 2013. Comparatively, MTN Satellite Communications said its MTN Nexus service [will start to be available in the second quarter of 2013.

Apps for Cruise Industry – There are already plenty of apps currently available. When the new MTN service is implemented, the MTN Nexus service will also feature a Connect at Sea voice app. This app will provide a cost effective way for passengers and crew to use their own Smartphones to communicate while on board by using the WiFi network. Additionally, Norwegian Cruise Line offers the iConcierge app which lets guests communicate with other smart phone users through voice and text messages.

Cruise Industry Use of Social Media – Social media has allowed cruise lines to widen their audience through Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Whether promoting cruises or looking for new employees, cruise lines are increasing their use of these types of websites.

Smartphone Rentals on Cruise Ships – Royal Caribbean rents Royal Connect Smartphones and wristbands on board the Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. They can be used to keep track of family members and other guests that are cruising together. Look for this technology on the rest of their fleet in the future as well as similar technology on other cruise lines.

Ipads in Every Cruise Ship Cabin – Royal Caribbean’s upgrades on select ships will have ipads available in every cabin to be used throughout the ship. Uses will include accessing the internet, viewing restaurant menus, checking daily activities and monitoring shipboard accounts.


Cruise Ships and the Environment

MARPOL Amendments for 2013 and Onwards – The amendments to MARPOL Annex VI entered force on January 1, 2013. It applies to all ships of 400 gross tonnage and above. It is the first mandatory global greenhouse gas (GHG) regime for the cruise industry. Its purpose is to enforce mandatory reduction measures for all ships to significantly reduce emissions.

Low Sulfur Fuels for Cruise Ships – Additionally, maritime fuel emission rules in North America require a reduction in the amount of sulfur dioxide emissions from cruise ships’ diesel engines over the next eight years. Unfortunately there is a supply shortage of low sulfur fuels.

Fuel Scrubbing Technology on Cruise Ships – As an alternative, currently Royal Caribbean and Holland America are testing fuel scrubbers on select vessels. A fuel scrubber cleans the emissions from the engines as they go up the stack. The impurities and sulfur particles get washed out, and much cleaner exhaust is released.

Solar and Wind Energy on Cruise Ships – Check out this video by STX Europe that demonstrates the future cruise ships between 2015 and 2020:



Cruise Itineraries and Cruise Ports in the Future

Future of Cruising in Alaska – Alaska will continue to be popular with its convenience of embarkation ports and wide range of shore excursions. As long as the head tax is not re-implemented and the environmental regulations are consistent with other itineraries, then cruise lines will continue to send their ships to Alaska.

Future of Cruising in Antarctica – The International Maritime Organization began to discuss the development of a Polar Code back in 2009 after an expedition cruise ship sank near Antarctica in 2007. The IMO is currently working on a draft version of this Polar Code that will mandate the types of vessels that will be allowed to cruise in Antarctica. Regulations will likely cover ship construction, specialized crew training, pollution prevention and safe navigation.

Future of River Cruising – This is a segment of the market that is showing one of the biggest growths. River cruise lines have been and will continue to increase their fleets exponentially through 2014. For example, Viking River Cruises added 10 new river cruise ships in 2013 and another 10 in 2014.

Future of Cruising in Asia – This is the itinerary to keep your eye on in the future. Royal Caribbean’s commitment to Asia continues between 2015 and 2020 with both the Mariner of the Seas and the Legend of the Seas offering numerous cruises from Singapore or Shanghai. Comparatively, Princess Cruises had five ships visiting countries in Asia during 2014 and 2015.


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