The cruise industry is gaining momentum and proving to be one of the most significant contributors to the post-pandemic travel recovery, according to Raki Phillips, chief executive officer of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.
“That said, COVID-19 marked a substantial shift in the cruise industry, with the pause sending operators and brands back to the drawing board, where they created more sustainable and personalized travel experiences for 2023,” he said.
As the world embraces a new type of travel, authorities in Ras Al Khaimah are working in partnership with RAK Ports on several projects to further develop the Emirate’s offering.
“A rigorous revamp has seen investment in state-of-the-art facilities, including transforming Ras Al Khaimah’s old ferry terminal into an efficient and modern boutique cruise passenger terminal,” said Phillips.
“The strategy paid off in the long run, with the 2022-23 season seeing six calls by four luxury cruises such as Azamara Quest, The World (Residences at Sea) and more. For the upcoming 2023-24 season, 14 luxury cruise calls have been lined up, and we’re set to welcome 20 more during 2025-26 and more.”
However, there has also been a shift in the industry reflecting emerging trends, explained Phillips.
“We’re seeing luxury travel begin to fade and be replaced by more curated, authentic experiences. Post-pandemic, well-heeled travelers are pursuing a ‘conscious comeback’ to travel – seeking to visit places that resonate with their purpose, be it sustainable living, giving back to a local community, or being amongst nature, culture, and history.”
Additionally, a new demographic of travelers are emerging as the driving force for the cruise industry’s status as one of the fastest-growing tourism sectors and that is GenZ and Millenials.
“These younger travelers are setting new trends as they place diverse food scenes, purposeful experiences and outdoor adventures above material ‘things’.”
“But the resurgence in cruise travel isn’t only booming amongst the ‘TikTok Generation’, its also appealing to those seeking multi-generational travel. Cruise destinations that offer ‘something for everyone’ are growing in demand as travelers look for multi-activity adventure vacations that allow for a more inclusive whole-family experience that caters to a diverse range of interests and needs,” Phillips said.