Writer Margie Boutté
Photography Courtesy of Elite Travel of Scottsdale

[dropcap]L[/dropcap]uxury cruising is the fastest growing sector within the travel industry. Travelers are looking for a five-star luxury experiences while traveling, even when flying for example by using Jettly private jet hire. With upscale products emerging, travelers are discovering the ease of both ocean and river cruising. When Antarctica becomes a top destination for cruisers, as it is now, we know there have been some big changes in the luxury cruise business!

The top trends we are seeing for 2018 include:

Wellness, Fitness and Personal Healing

Wellness and fitness at sea remain hot, but a new component to luxury cruise programming is rejuvenation or “personal healing.” Voyages of 10 to 14 days, extended itineraries and longer world cruises offer the luxury of time for guests to not only work out, but also to recharge both physically and mentally. Even a short cruise break can be beneficial for rejuvenation.

Cruises with wellness, fitness and personal healing appeal to travelers recovering from a long or serious illness and those dealing with personal grief. Not uncommon is the divorce cruise, as luxury customers look to the sea to celebrate their rebirth or, alternatively, find comfort and personal rediscovery after a difficult split.

It’s all about shifting into life’s next chapter and luxury lines have responded with a slew of new options.

The Rise of Adventure and Expedition Luxurification

In the past, if cruisers desired to sail to Borneo, Siberia or the Galapagos Islands, cruise choices were minimal, and many expedition ships lacked creature comforts. Today, adventure travel is on the rise and expedition cruising has gone luxury. This year, adventure travel is a dominant trend and a highly desirable form of vacation.

For example, this winter, SilverSea Cruises’ Silver Cloud will sail to Antarctica, with an expedition team of up to 19 experts onboard. Guests can attend lectures and presentations daily in the ship’s theater or watch those live in their suite. During a multi-million-dollar drydock update, Silver Cloud gained a new observation lounge to allow guests to “ooh” and “aah” at glaciers, volcanoes, tropical isles and marine life from the comfort of a luxury ship. Fitness buffs also can work out with new Technogym equipment.

Other expedition ships can drop anchor in the most inaccessible places, including Papua New Guinea, South America’s Orinoco and Amazon rivers, remote areas of Costa Rica, the Maldives and the Bissagos Islands off the West African coastline. Take a look at asia travel from Zegrahm Expeditions which include cruises around the Philippines and Maldives, to name a couple. From small, agile ships to mega-yachts, cruisers can follow migrating paths of whales or explore remote islands or polar regions at the level of comfort they desire.

More Upscale Trends

Culinary and Wine: The wine keeps on flowing on luxury products. For example, SeaDream Yacht Club is partnering with several world-renowned wineries to offer nine wine-themed cruises in the Caribbean and Mediterranean in 2018. These special voyages accommodating just 112 guests offer complimentary wine tastings, exquisite food and wine pairings, and specially curated land adventures. If the Caribbean is a dream destination of yours but you fancy something a little more exclusive and private, villas in Barbados are a really strong option if you’re after your own slice of Caribbean luxury.

River lines, too, are focused on wine. In 2018, AmaWaterways will offer 50-plus European wine-focused river cruises hosted by North American winemakers, winery owners and expert oenologists. AmaWaterways additionally offers wine-themed shore excursions in France’s Bordeaux, Burgundy and Alsace regions; Germany’s Moselle and Rhine valleys; Austria’s Wachau; and Portugal’s Douro River area.

SilverSea Expedition’s Silver Cloud, sailing from Lima to Punta Arenas, and Oceania Cruises, which will launch the Riviera between Lisbon and Rome and the Sirena from Rome to Venice, also offer culinary excursions, classes and other tasteful delights for cruisers this year.

In Other Cruise News…

Ponant has begun accepting bookings for its expedition cruises to Antarctica for winter 2018/2019. From November 2018 to March 2019, Ponant is offering 25 cruises aboard the company’s four sister yachts: Le Boreal, L’Austral, Le Soleal and Le Lyrial. Six different itineraries are available, ranging from the Antarctic, South Georgia, Falkland Islands and British overseas territories.

Experience scenic, compelling Japan, visiting unique ports and rarely seen wilderness areas in luxury with no more than 199 guests onboard the exclusively chartered Ponant’s L’Austral. Listen to fascinating lectures from A&K’s award-winning expedition team and choose from a variety of enriching experiences en route. Limited availability remains on this 14-day cruise, sailing May 16-29, 2018.

For golf enthusiasts, don’t miss these exclusive golf voyages brought to you by Azamara Club Cruises and PerryGolf. During the spring and summer, they will offer voyages to the East Coast and Bermuda, Southeast Asia to Hong Kong, the Baltic Sea including Russia, the British Isles with attendance to the British Open, plus five voyages in the Mediterranean.

Cuba is exceeding our expectations and space is booking very fast. In 2018 and 2019, Oceania Cruises and Azamara Club Cruises will offer a series of Cuba voyages. In 2019, Seadream Yacht Club will begin a series of eight circle-Cuba voyages sailing between Havana and Cienfuegos.

On July 7, 2018, the Azamara Quest sets sail on a stunning Redentore (Feast of the Redeemer) voyage, sailing from one side of Italy to the other, with the remarkable Dalmatian coast in between. As an Azamara guest, you’ll attend the Redentore, a religious celebration. At sunset, St. Mark’s Basin begins to fill up with boats of all kinds, from a bridge to the island where the Church of Redentore sits. At 11:30 p.m., the fireworks begin, lighting up the spires, domes and bell towers of the city. With the reflections in the water and on the ancient façades, there is really nothing else like it!

Join A&K on their inaugural Cruising the Greek Isles journey and see fascinating ruins, singular historic sites, natural marvels and cruise aboard Ponant’s brand-new, exclusively chartered luxury vessel, Le Laperouse. October 10, 2018. Limited to 150 guests.

Cruise with A&K’s award-winning expedition team for 21 nights along the full length of the breathtaking Northwest Passage, voyaging from Greenland to the Canadian Arctic to the Bering Sea and ending in Alaska. August 18, 2018. Limited to 199 guests. (Limited cabins remain.)

Explore Europe in relaxing, elegant and authentic style by canal barge. Select from several luxurious new barges being introduced in 2018.

In summary, today’s luxury traveler seeks more depth of understanding and immersion into local culture than ever before. People don’t just want to see; they want to participate. It used to be consumers were all about acquiring stuff. Today they’re about acquiring memories, and at the end of the day, we’re in the memory business.