It wasn’t a coincidence when Filipino bloggers led by Chinchin Obcena, Katt Valdez, and Kerwin King paraded their nautical OOTDs in consecutive Instagram posts late last year. Aboard the Royal Caribbean Cruises, the young influencers posed their seafaring stills garnering between a thousand to 7,000 likes for each photo. The ship’s invite likely came as deliberate, with more and more young people actually discovering how enriching maritime odysseys is. Recent numbers are proving this to be true, with research company Mintel saying 38% of those “interested” in cruising in the next five years are aged 16-34 (followed by 35-54 at 28%). Cruise vacations, in general, are gaining more popularity year by year, reported Telegraph, with the Cruise Lines International Association recording 25.8 million cruisers in 2017 and projecting 30 million by the end of 2019.
This trend might just be the reason why Genting Cruise Lines also invited myself and a few other members of the press at launch of Explorer Dream in Shanghai, China recently. Explorer Dream is the third member of the brand’s Dream Cruises fleet, a refurbished version of the famed Superstar Virgo.
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Measuring 268 m x 32 m, Explorer Dream employed German craftsmanship for its 928 cabins. The ship's inauguration marked the line’s accommodation of the Eastern and North Chinese market, reportedly five times larger than the South China market. But while Genting Cruise Lines was overt about their business vision, there I was mulling over how cruise ships are becoming the next big thing in “affordable luxury.” We all know which bunch of consumers digs affordable luxury—millennials.
I, in my late 20s, am part of that bunch. In my younger years, though, I never never really appreciated the idea for I thought of it too expensive, but also… uncool. True, I would see my elder folks from my father’s side vacationing aboard these ships in different regions almost yearly every January. As for me, I’ve received maybe around 10 other familiarization invites just in the past year so unexcited that I only said yes to around two. Eventually, the glamorous introductions of these cruises to the younger market switched my perspective. Say, over the past months, I’ve been actively inviting friends within my age group to go with me on a cruise. Mostly, I’d get greeted back with “But why? Isn’t it for old people?” I’d not so intelligently reply with “Exactly why! Less competition in their amenities!” I would then follow it with how cruise lines are exerting major efforts to draw millennials nearer.
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On the surface, the Explorer Dream, for example, now boasts of walls and floors printed so gorgeously you’d think they collaborated with fashion faves Missoni or GP & J Baker. Its Palace is a divine “ship within a ship” concept that has exclusive privileges including a bar, lounges, and a pool deck for the ideal good time at sea. (The Palace Pool Deck, in fact, stood as the location for top Chinese designer Grace Chen and her “Voyage” collection, staged during the launch.) The ship’s another “Instagram-friendly” offering is a matcha shop that offers, well, matcha ice cream—another millennial top-of-mind dessert. Economics wise, the ship is working to lower its rates to Buy One, Take One by participating at this weekend’s Travel Madness Expo.
Next to the more updated designs and better cost-efficiency, it’s also the “journey” that the experience-hungry millennials count as the ultimate criterion. It’s thus no wonder why in the same Telegraph article, other cruise lines spewed words like “creative,” “adrenaline-filled,” and “paperless” as part of their promise of a well-rounded trip.
“(C)ruising is the best way to visit lots of new places in a limited amount of time,” blogger Emma La Teace of Cruising Isn’t Just For Old People, who started cruising at 11 and has been on at least 21 trips, put on her site. “There is nothing quite like opening the curtains in the morning and being in a new place.”
Even early last year, Explorer Dream’s former incarnation Superstar Virgo hit close to home with its interestingly themed cruises that teased the traveling bagets. No, not the one with PBA legends Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, and Jerry Codinera; it's the Labor Day Party Cruise that onboarded party-starting DJs Tom Taus and Patty Tiu, all embarking to carve out an obviously younger niche.
On to the land of those with increasing purchasing power, the ship has definitely sailed.
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Photos courtesy of Genting Cruise Lines