Virtuoso’s Premium Ocean demand overtakes Luxury

Forward bookings with the luxury travel network show a 7 pcp difference

Oceania Cruises, Vista

Virtuoso has released its latest survey findings on cruising preferences based on the expertise of more than 300 professional travel advisors who specialise in the field.

The luxury travel network found that 58% believe it will emerge as the strongest tourism sector in 2024/2025, surpassing land-only experiences.

To further illustrate the point, Virtuoso’s 18-to-24-month forward-looking cruise bookings in excess of US$50,000 have increased more than 100% compared to the same period last year. Among the cruise categories with the highest anticipated bookings, Premium Ocean takes the lead at 34%, followed by Luxury Ocean at 27%, River at 22% and Expedition at 15%.

Grand Dining Room, Oceania Cruises' Vista

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Virtuoso provided the following key insights sourced from a survey conducted among travel advisors in the Virtuoso Cruise Community:

A New Wave of First-Time Cruisers:

Sixty percent of surveyed advisors have observed an increase in first-time cruisers. According to a recent survey by Cruise Lines International Association, 27% of cruisers over the past two years are new to cruising, an increase of 12% over previous years. Additionally, 62% of Virtuoso advisors have observed that first-time cruisers often turn to them for guidance in planning and booking their sailings, emphasising the value of travel advisors’ unparalleled knowledge to the uninitiated and their essential role in crafting unforgettable journeys.

Elevated Levels of Luxury

Welcoming the surge of first-time cruisers, the industry is abuzz with fresh offerings tailored for those who prefer exclusive onboard experiences with a touch of style and sophistication. Slated to launch in January 2026, Four Seasons Yachts will operate in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, complemented by the renowned Four Seasons standard of excellence. Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection’s second vessel Ilma, is undergoing final preparations for its inaugural voyage from Monte Carlo to Rome this September. Explora Journeys will also launch its second ultra-luxury cruise ship in August this year.

The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection

Shifting Demographics

Fifty-nine percent of advisors have noticed a demographic transformation underway in the cruise industry. Of this group, 36% attribute the shift to an increase in bookings from Millennials and Gen Z. Supporting this trend, CLIA’s research indicates a promising future for cruising among the younger demographic, with 81% of Millennials and 74% of Gen Z who have recently cruised expressing intentions to cruise again. Twenty-seven percent of Virtuoso advisors attribute the changing landscape to an increasing preference among families for cruising, while an equal percentage have observed a rise in female solo cruisers.

Dynamic and Diverse:

Advisors report their clients’ cruise itineraries reflect a variety of motivations, ranging from adventure and exploration to cultural immersion and personal fulfilment. The traditional waters of Alaska and the Caribbean and remain popular, while there’s growing interest in more remote expedition cruises to places like Antarctica, Iceland, the Galapagos Islands and even the North Pole. Japan and West Africa are attracting cruisers seeking immersive cultural experiences. Personal passions also play a role in shaping travel choices, such as Australia’s Kimberley region for photography enthusiasts and Ireland for travellers looking to reconnect with their ancestral heritage. Additionally, the introduction of new seasonality for cruise itineraries, such as winter Mediterranean sailings, is a savvy way to explore popular destinations without the crowds, often at a better value.

The Lobby of Explora Journeys' EXPLORA I

Cruising Into 2025:

Surveyed advisors identified the top five cruising trends they believe will continue into 2025:

  • Destination immersion with more nights in port or overnights on land
  • Cruising to cold-weather climates (Alaska, Antarctica, the Arctic)
  • Solo cruising
  • New seasonality for itineraries
  • Increased demand and luxury offerings for multigenerational cruising

Commenting on the findings, Melissa Araya, VP, Cruise at Virtuoso said: “This is an exciting and transformative time in the cruise industry.”

“Cruise has some of the most loyal, repeat passengers, and then we also have these newcomers who are embracing cruising with such enthusiasm.”

“With new lines and new vessels coming into the market, there are so many more options and such a wide variety of itineraries to choose from.

“Virtuoso advisors understand their clients on a deeper level, and they are masters at matching the client to the right type of cruise. Even those who never considered cruising before can do so with confidence, venturing into new territory with the comfort of a trusted ally by their side,” Araya said.

The first Fours Seasons Yachts is slated to commence operation in January 2026

Virtuoso’s cruise portfolio includes ocean, river, yacht, and expedition partners offering thousands of itineraries to global ports of call. The Virtuoso Voyages program offers exclusives on more than 400 select cruises annually across 13 separate cruise lines, including a dedicated onboard host and choice of an additional benefit ranging in value from $500 per couple to several thousand dollars, depending on the sailing.

In March, LATTE exclusively reported that Virtuoso would be introducing its Virtuoso Cruise Icon program to Australia and New Zealand. Last month, 29 Virtuoso members in the region were welcomed into the program, also revealed first by LATTE.

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