Gen Z. You’ve heard of them, I’m sure. They’re the generation that’s coming full-force right after the Millennials. They’re still kids, for sure, but they already play a major role in family vacation decisions, especially when it comes to a cruise vacation. In fact, there’s a reason this year’s Seatrade conference program featured a session titled, “Move Over Millennials: How Gen Z is Reshaping Expectations.” Ask Rick Sasso, recently named chairman of MSC North America, about Gen Z’s impact on vacation planning and he says, “They often play a significant role when it comes to deciding their family’s vacation. Many families will sit down as a group—particularly those with children of varying ages—to find a vacation that will satisfy the needs of everyone.”
Adolfo Perez, v.p. of sales & trade marketing for Carnival Cruise Line, adds that “research indicates that 95 percent of parents consult their kids when making purchases for them, and 69 percent check with their kids when buying products and experiences for the entire family. Gen Z is highly engaged and is certainly impacting the decision-making process for their families.”
So, we’ve gathered up a few onboard treats that will delight the Gen Z crowd (and the Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers won’t be disappointed either).
Carnival has debuted a Build-A-Bear Workshop At Sea program that will roll out aboard the Carnival Dream and is expected fleetwide aboard all 25 Carnival ships by summer 2017. “Our new Build-A-Bear partnership,” says Perez, “is designed to appeal to the all-important family market, particularly Gen Z. This generation enjoys self-directed and customized experiences that reflect individuality. With Build-A-Bear, children can go in and customize their selected bear or other furry friend with a variety of outfits and accessories. And each plush toy comes with its own ‘birth certificate,’ complete with its name and date he or she was created. Additionally, the bears have their own ‘voice’ via a recordable sound chip with kids recording their own special message.” The cruise line will be setting up pop-up workstations located within Camp Ocean facilities, and there’ll be Build-A-Bear At Sea parties held each cruise.
Summer Camp…at Sea?
The way Celebrity Cruises spins it, why not? They’ve introduced what they call “the most unique Summer Camp at Sea” offering enriching activities such as iTake, which is currently offered on board, but by summer 2017 will have a more robust program, and updated camera and computer equipment. Kids will be going on a digital scavenger hunt or have the option to create a short film. Children ages 9 to 11 that love geography, meanwhile, can dive into the Lonely Planet-based activity. It’s broken up into three sessions and allows kids to design their own nation from scratch—everything from designing the flag and setting the government standards to planning the geography of the land. There’s also Recreation Nation, powered by Celebrity’s Fun Factory for Life database, as well as the Wanderlust at Sea for teens ages 15-17—an interactive gameshow that exposes teens to travel, adventure and cultural curiosities with the help of video content supplied from Lonely Planet bloggers/vloggers. Topping off the list of activities is Creation Station, the line’s “Junior Cruiser and Family Art Program.” It’s an immersive art program for children and their families with each Creation Station utilizing different materials. The Summer Camp at Sea will be offered exclusively on Celebrity Equinox, which will have 24 sailings alternating between the Western and Eastern Caribbean in 2017, all from PortMiami.
Ring in the Holidays at Sea
For families who want to get away for the holidays, Costa Cruises is rolling out a bevy of special events and activities featuring sun, surf and Santa. The Costa Deliziosa will sail two back-to-back cruises roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale; the first is a 7-nighter departing on Dec. 21, and the second departs on Dec. 28 for a 10-day sailing. During both cruises, which will include a Christmas Eve dinner, as well as a special midnight mass (for Jewish guests, a variety of activities aboard will celebrate the first night of Hanukkah on Dec. 24), junior cruisers will be invited to participate in holiday-themed arts and crafts sessions, caroling, and writing a letter to Santa Claus. Christmas Day features gifts from Santa, as well as photo-ops with the man of the hour, not to mention a day enjoying Roatan, Honduras. Costa Cruises has also debuted a Captain for a Day experience on Costa Diadema and Costa Fascinosa. Kids will receive a captain’s uniform for the day to wear to their captain’s training, where they’ll learn the ins and outs of the ship, nautical terms and how to navigate with their own map and compass. There are three levels to the program, with varying pricing.
Agents, get ready, because your Disney Cruise Line bookings are about to explode—especially if your clients have little princesses at home. “Frozen” is about to hit the high seas, with a new stage show exclusively aboard the Disney Wonder, “Frozen, A Musical Spectacular.” Debuting on cruises starting Nov. 10, 2016 out of Galveston, Texas, the show will feature a combination of traditional theatrical techniques, modern technology and “classic Disney whimsy.” Of course, the stand-out moment will be the ballad “Let it Go,” complete with transformative scenery, snow flurries and state-of-the-art video technology.
A Dash of Fun
Little chefs ages 3 to 11 will have a field day with MSC Cruises’ new kids-dedicated interactive cooking class, the DOREMI Chef by Carlo Cracco. They’ll learn how to make homemade pasta from scratch, among other recipes, while receiving cooking hints and tips. Time in the kitchen can be complemented with the cruise line’s other new kid-friendly addition, the DOREBRO sports program, with a variety of sports and active games for all levels broken down into two daily sessions, and open to kids ages 3 to 17. Sasso says these family-friendly additions to MSC’s offerings are important because “increasingly we are seeing more multigenerational travel, and thus, we prioritize family activities on board our ships, as well as shore excursions, that are fun for all ages.”
Come 2017, Norwegian Cruise Line’s private Bahamian island Great Stirrup Caye will be getting a new family recreation area, a 1,000-ft.-long zipline, and an exclusive access lagoon retreat. The recreation area will feature a stage for live music, games and entertainers; basketball and volleyball courts; ping-pong tables; and a shaded picnic area. Beginning in summer 2017, families will have access to the private lagoon retreat, with a secluded beach, oceanview restaurant, a Mandara Spa, sheltered family area, and 22 air-conditioned private villas, ranging in size from studios to 2-bedrooms (accommodating up to 10 guests). The lagoon area will be available on a complimentary basis to The Haven and Suite guests, as well as guests who purchase an on-island Mandara Spa service. Additionally, a limited amount of passes will be available for purchase on each sailing.
Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas will debut an array of all-new enhancements this November, including new dual racer waterslides, Cyclone and Typhoon, the popular FlowRider surf simulator, and a children’s aquapark, Splashaway Bay. The ship’s $61 million facelift will also include the addition of 100 new staterooms, a refresh of all existing staterooms, and a new lineup of culinary and entertainment venues.
Carnival Cruise Line: carnival.com
Celebrity Cruises: celebritycruises.com
Costa Cruises: costacruise.com
Disney Cruise Line: disneycruise.com
MSC Cruises: msccruiseusa.com
Norwegian Cruise Line: ncl.com
Royal Caribbean International: royalcaribbean.com