Children and the family market
School of Business and Law
With the rapid rise in cruising over the past decade, there has been a major change in passenger profiles, with a shift away from older retirees to a range of small but growing markets. The average age of passengers is decreasing, with first time passengers now well under 40. Family cruising is now the industry’s fastest growing segment, with more than 2 million children under 18 years of age going on a cruise in 2015 (Ward, 2016). For Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL), the ‘intergenerational travel groups’ now comprise up to one-fifth of their passengers. The growth in the number of children cruising has developed as they emerge as a dominant influencer in family purchase decisions. The global children’s market is estimated to be worth US$1.2 trillion in buying power and influence. The times have changed for the cruise industry; previously they were a floating adult playground, today they are emerging as the child’s playground. Like the famous children’s playgrounds of the fast food industry, cruise lines are now forming relationships with licensed children’s brands such as Lego and Disney to attract this lucrative consumer market (Table 20.1). Disney Cruise Line has doubled its fleet from two to four ships with the introduction of Disney Dream (2011) and Disney Fantasy (2012), specifically designed with families in mind. Royal Caribbean International now offers free Barbie-related activities for 4–11-year-olds in its ‘Adventure Ocean Youth Club’ with a Barbie Premium Experience on offer. Most new resort ships have dedicated spaces for children of all ages. Given the growing importance of the family market to cruising, this chapter will explore how cruise lines are successfully tailoring their offerings to attract this emerging and lucrative market. The future of cruising will involve turning the deck into a child’s playground.