(this article was recently published in the New York Times)
Cruise lines have long been wooing millennial travelers with high-tech amenities like fast internet, thrilling shipboard adventures like skydiving, zip lines and demographically pitched late-night dance parties. Now one cruise company is making a fuller proposal by launching the first millennial-targeted cruise line.
U by Uniworld, from the high-end Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection, will launch in April 2018 two ships that repurpose existing Uniworld ships. The A and the B, as they are called, will accommodate 120 passengers each and have black exteriors and a sleek design with communal spaces, deck-top lounges and D.J.s.
The new line aims to capture 21-to-45-year-old travelers with onboard enrichment opportunities like landscape painting while sipping wine and classes in mixology and cooking. On shore, travelers can explore independently or go on guided excursions such as shopping in a food market with a ship chef, rock climbing, white-water rafting or following so-called U Hosts to local nightspots.
Four eight-day itineraries will travel on the Rhine, Main, Danube or Seine Rivers, with overnight stays when the ships are in Paris, Vienna, Amsterdam and Budapest. Fares start at $1,699 a person, a considerable savings from the main Uniworld line, where eight-day trips start at $2,699 a person.
Other cruise lines are sharpening their pitches to the younger end of the cruising spectrum with new high-tech ships and amenities. Carnival Cruise Lines will introduce its new Ocean Medallion on Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess in November. The wearable device will unlock cabin doors, enable shipboard purchases and act as a navigation device, allowing friends or waiters to find passengers.
The 2,900-passenger oceangoing Celebrity Edge from Celebrity Cruises will launch in 2018 with the line’s first single staterooms and a cantilevered platform the size of a tennis court called the Magic Carpet that will move from deck to deck, creating a walkway to tenders on Deck 2, an outdoor dining terrace on Deck 5 or an expanded pool deck on 14.
In June, the 5,700-passenger MSC Meraviglia from MSC Cruises launched with interactive bracelets that unlock cabin doors and process shipboard purchases, and introduced two new shows from Cirque du Soleil.