The Evolution of the Cruise Industry – Past Present and Future Trends

The evolution of the cruise industry past present and future trends

Over time, cruise industry has evolved from a strictly functional activity to one that offers leisure tourism services tailored for multiple passenger profiles. This shift has been enabled by attractive cruise service packages at reasonable prices and ample newbuilt vessel capacity which have combined to propel strong revenue and profitability growth.

Cruising began as a regional phenomenon, with ships departing New York, Florida and California to cruise the Caribbean and Alaska. Nowadays, as cruise lines expand into new markets, passengers are now departing from European and Asian ports.


The cruise industry has been around since the 1800’s. What started out as a means of sending mail and cargo became a leisure cruise line that takes passengers around the world for relaxation and recreation.

P&O introduced the idea of taking a relaxing holiday onboard a ship to the world in 1844 when they began transporting passengers from London to the Mediterranean for several weeks at a time. Later, their services were extended across India, the Orient, and Australia as well.

Passenger cruising really took off in the 1830’s, when steam ships became an increasingly popular means of transport. The British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet (now Cunard) took passenger comfort to new heights by including a cow on board for fresh milk during their 14 day transatlantic crossings.

However, the cruise industry would experience a steady decline throughout the 20th century with the introduction of commercial transatlantic flights in 1958. These cuts out demand for ocean liners since they no longer had to ferry passengers across country.

Shipbuilding companies were forced to reinvent themselves, shifting the emphasis from luxury ocean crossings to entertainment and fun. This transformed cruises from high-society drama into an all-inclusive holiday experience, which was further cemented by the success of 1977 TV show The Love Boat.


The evolution of the cruise industry has been an incredible journey for both passengers and companies alike. There have been many highs and lows along with some significant firsts that forever altered cruising’s course.

Over the past decade, cruise lines have witnessed major advances in their industry and passenger appeal. Some of the most exciting examples include Royal Caribbean’s groundbreaking surf simulator FlowRider, Planetarium onboard Queen Mary 2, and Norwegian Cruise Line’s race track, just to name a few.

Travelers are seeking out experiences they won’t find elsewhere, prompting cruise companies to provide shore excursions that take visitors to some of the world’s remotest corners.

One of today’s major trends is people wanting to share their ‘instagrammable’ moments with family and friends. Thus, cruise companies are working tirelessly to guarantee all guests access to reliable internet even in remote places.

The ‘open cruising’ trend presents cruise operators with an exciting opportunity, but it may also present risks. Those who fail to adapt and keep up with market demands could find themselves left behind in the future.


As the cruise industry recovers after years of global restrictions, new trends are taking shape. From sustainability initiatives to shore-power connectivity, they demonstrate how the industry is adapting to its environment and making strides towards net carbon neutrality by 2050.

As more passengers return to cruising, more are seeking destinations that provide them with year-round enjoyment of the sea. This includes off-season cruising – which allows people to save money while seeing a different destination at the same time.

One of the most intriguing trends in cruise tourism is a shift towards smaller, more intimate ships. This trend can be seen with the return of riverboats and expedition vessels, with expectations that it will spread further into niche markets.

Meanwhile, cruise itineraries are expanding to include more international guests from Europe and Asia. This diversity of guests gives cruisers a unique perspective of the world and they tend to enjoy dining together, sharing stories about new places, and meeting new people.

If you are interested in working as a staff member within the industry, there are plenty of job openings to choose from. Depending on your experience, education and skill set, you can find something that best suits your qualifications and experience.