Cruise lines lure new generation with extreme sports, adventure

Thu Jan 16, 2014 6:43pm EST
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By Marina Lopes

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Cruise ships are hosting everything from Broadway shows to skydiving, as companies focus on luring in millennials seeking thrilling and immersive experiences, industry experts said on Thursday.

Incidents like the sinking of the Costa Concordia and the breakdown of the Carnival Splendor have done little to deter people from taking cruises, industry data shows.

Sixteen new cruise ships will be launched in 2014 and passenger numbers will reach 21.7 million this year, up 400,000 from 2013, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents companies around the globe.

Millennials, people born from the 1980s to the early 2000s, are driving that growth and to keep them coming, companies are extending port stays and adding exotic locales like Thailand and Fiji to their itineraries.

"We are really trying to cater to that generation," said Jim Berra, chief marketing officer of Carnival Cruise Lines and CLIA's marketing chair.

Extending excursions, he said, is one way of attracting a consumer looking for a more immersive experience.

Azamara Club Cruises launched "AzAmazing Evenings", complementary late-night excursions that allow sports lovers to watch water-jousting in France and cultural seekers to sample local wine and dance in Cyprus.

Companies are also investing in thrills aboard their cruises, such as skydiving, zip lines and observation spheres that tower over the new ships.   Continued...