Sailing this year? Here are 5 top cruise trends to look for in 2016

About 24 million people are expected to take a cruise in 2016.

About 24 million people are expected to take a cruise in 2016.

(David Flaherty / For The Times )

The cruise industry is chugging ahead in this new year, with an estimated 24 million passengers setting sail.

That’s a significant jump from the 15 million passengers a decade ago, according to Cruise Lines International Assn.

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Twenty-seven new ocean, river and small ships will hit the water this year. And it’s no surprise that while the Caribbean is by far the top destination for cruisers, Australia and Asia are heating up.

Here are five trends CruiseCompete says to look for in 2016.


1. U.S. river cruises: River cruising has exploded in Europe over the last few years, and now American rivers get their turn.

Viking River Cruises will be launching two ships on the Mississippi River starting in 2017, which means you’ll be able to buy tickets this year. The ships will homeport in the French Quarter of New Orleans. In all, Viking will roll out six new riverboats on the Mississippi over three years.

The line joins the Queen of the Mississippi operated by American Cruise Lines and two ships run by American Queen Steamboat Co. in offering cruises on the river.

2. Cuba by ship: With the thawing of U.S.-Cuba relations and reopening of embassies, Americans have been flocking to the island nation. But remember: Economic sanctions are still in place, so Americans still need to have an acceptable reason (people-to-people tours are the most common) to go.

You can take a seven-night cruise on Crystal Cruises which travels along the West Coast of Cuba but doesn’t land. And this year Carnival Corp.'s Fathom brand will dip into the Cuba market with sailings from Miami aboard the small ship Adonia, which carries 710 passengers.

3. All-inclusive please: Regent Seven Seas Cruises has led the way for years with all-inclusive sailings, and more lines are following suit. Expect to see fewer out-of-pocket expenses and more included extras, such as premium beverages and shore excursions.

This “What’s Included in My Cruise?” Web page compares major cruise lines and which amenities they offer in the price of the trip.

4. Make room for families: CruiseCompete reports that family cabins, such as Royal Caribbean’s family junior suite, are always in high demand. That particular one has three bedrooms and three bathrooms and sleeps eight.

Disney Cruise Line, which caters to kid fun and families, offers staterooms with bunk beds and foldout couches.

5. Better Wi-Fi: Cruise lines will be upgrading and perfecting their Wi-Fi, but it won’t necessarily be free (it is on Regent Seven Seas). Royal Caribbean and Carnival in particular are stepping up their Wi-Fi connections.


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