Extended families a continued growth market for cruise lines

By Johanna Jainchill

Family vacationNEW YORK — More than half of Carnival Cruise Lines’ bookings are for multiple cabins, as multigenerational travel continues to surge.

Speaking at CLIA’s annual State of the Cruise Industry event on Thursday, Jim Berra, chairman of the CLIA marketing committee and Carnival’s chief marketing officer, said more than half of Carnival’s 1.9 million reservations last year were for multiple cabins.

“That’s most often family,” he said. “The age dispersion is becoming more pronounced — there are more seniors cruising, and also more kids.”

Noting this was an industry-wide trend, Berra said cruise lines are “extremely well-positioned” to continue attracting these passengers, but that it could do a lot more to cater to families.

For example, he noted that while water slides are geared toward young people, the cruise line has to consider making places for grandparents to sit in the shade and watch their grandchildren use them.

Berra said that beyond families, the industry is targeting millennials (customers in their late teens and 20s), which at 95 million outstrip the 78 million baby boomers that get so much attention.

He said that creating technology allowing millennials to stay connected and use social media on vacation was part of that focus. To do that, cruise lines are continuing to invest in faster, more cost-efficient WiFi.

“It’s a connected consumer today, and while many may want to get off the grid, the reality is many are going to need to be connected,” he said.

Berra said the cruise lines are developing apps that will let passengers know what’s happening onboard and let them communicate with people they meet on the ships, without accruing roaming charges.

Berra already knows that customers are using mobile phones to research and book cruises, at least at Carnival, where mobile users now account for more than 20% of traffic at CCL.com.

“More than 60% of our email correspondence is opened on a smartphone,” Berra said. “The number of bookings is small, but we have built a mobile booking engine.”

Follow Johanna Jainchill on Twitter @jjainchilltw.

Family vacation photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com.

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