Marketing Cruise to a New Generation

A new generation of Millennials are being introduced to travel on-board cruise vessels.

The demand for cruise is growing as new ships, newfound interest in active excursions, and technological innovations push the limits of the cruise experience. In light of a currently ageing cruise demographic, a new generation of Millennials are being introduced to travel on-board.

ABTA reports that 14% of UK holidaymakers plan on taking a cruise in the next 12 months, almost double the number that went on one in the past 12 months, and according to CLIA 27.2 million are expected to cruise globally this year. In 2018 an incredible line-up of new ships from key cruise lines are set to make their debut garnering excitement from industry, press, and anticipating holidaymakers. 

Built to accommodate over 6,000 passengers, Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas will make history next month as the biggest cruise vessel of any time. Featuring a vibrant selection of entertainment including the musical “Hairspray” and a seafood restaurant where diners sample freshly shucked oysters, Symphony of the Seas exemplifies a growing cruise sector in which experience takes centre stage. Also set to debut at the end of this year is Celebrity Cruises’ first new ship in six years—the Celebrity Edge. Boasting a luxury experience, Celebrity Edge introduces new solo suites and design innovations such as the ‘Magic Carpet’. Suspended over the side of the ship, the ‘Magic Carpet’ is a moveable deck that transforms from lively bar to scenic dining venue depending on which of 15 decks it can be moved to. With new innovations enabled by design and technology the cruise ship is no longer a vessel, but rather a collection of flexible spaces that delight, entertain, and show potential in attracting a younger audience.

With equally new ships and on-board innovations, river cruise operators compete with ocean liners for the limelight. Fast growing in the global cruise sector is an interest in river cruising—a more intimate way of traveling on water. This form of cruising is experiencing a rise in popularity with active excursions, where passengers can immerse themselves in the culture of destinations via hiking trails and local culinary tours. As the wider cruise sector departs from its outdated image as a sedentary break reserved only for those in their golden years, cruise operators seek to market their experiences to a younger generation of Millennials.

As the wider cruise sector departs from its outdated image as a sedentary break, cruise operators seek to market their experiences to a younger generation of Millennials.

The Millennial audience would rather spend on experiences as opposed to products.

The Millennial audience would rather spend on experiences as opposed to products.

As a diverse and enormous generation, the Millennial consumer constructs their lifestyle around a “live in the moment” mentality. This means that they would rather spend on experiences as opposed to products even at the cost of future repercussions. Compared to their Baby Boomer counterparts who rely on personal savings, the Millennial spends more on purchasing the latest technology, journeying via Ubers, and dining at the hottest restaurants at the expense of saving up. It’s not surprising, given that they’re constantly seeking new experiences and making impulsive decisions, that they expect to receive instant gratification. For the travel industry, this presents challenges but also a whole host of opportunities in marketing to Millennials.

The new U by Uniworld River Cruises offers an unprecedented cruise experience to the Millennial generation. U takes its passengers along rivers of Europe onboard sleek ships “The A” and “The B”, indulging them in out of the ordinary excursions. Decked out with Snapchat and Instagram-able interiors, U attracts a generation of connected digital natives with street-food inspired cuisine, rooftop bars, international DJs and sunrise yoga on-board. Harnessing social media influencers and their reach, Uniworld River Cruises leads in a campaign that is sure to be followed. According to ABTA Millennials are showing significant interest in cruise holidays, with more than one in ten holidaymakers between the ages of 18-24 planning a cruise for next year.


So, how do you market cruise to Millennials?



Your brand is the most important basis for cultivating a loyal client base, who become ambassadors for your message and draw traffic and new audiences to your business. By investing in branding, you create a cohesive identity and solid platform for implementing campaigns. Millennials are savvy and culturally educated, they innately know what good branding looks and feels like—they expect you to deliver a fulfilling brand experience that extends further than your logo.

Online Channels

Reaching out to a generation of digital natives through online channels is an instinctive action, but beware that the Millennial consumer is a vast generation and can be a diverse range of individuals. They pride themselves as individuals who curate distinct identities, forming their tastes and conducting their behaviours largely based on digital and social influences. As such, when targeting a Millennial audience you should think about behaviours and personalities as opposed to demographics.

As a peer lead generation that seeks to feel connected constantly, harnessing social media influencers can provide your brand with an envoy to project your message. Think about the lifestyle of your audience, and identify key influencers that shape their interests and spark changes in their behaviours. At the core of your digital approach to a Millennial audience must be a focus on User Experience, what kind of experience does your audience want have on your digital platforms? What are the intrinsic responses you want to elicit?

With branding in place, leveraging online channels helps you reach and collect data about a Millennial audience. In light of the diversity within this generation, data can help you keep track of behavioural changes, pin-point who you engage with, and allow you to offer a personalised experience.


Personalisation can create an emotional connection between your brand and a Millennial audience. With a taste for luxury and as a generation that endorses diversity, the individual takes centre stage in how Millennials see and interact within the world. Rewarding individuality can offer unanticipated delight or surprise, providing them with an experience that makes them feel unique (this isn’t only reserved for the Millennial generation) and reason to advocate your brand.

Your value

Consider your current offering, and whether it aligns with a Millennial audience’s experience and lifestyle. By tweaking your proposition or even the way it is communicated, you can create new appeal. Think about your audience’s barriers of entry, and how to break them down.


Timing can really affect the outcome of your marketing efforts. When building your strategy, don’t just keep an eye out for trends, happenings, and cultural shifts within your sector—understand and believe them. Spotting extrinsic motivations that will influence your audience can help you amplify your message. Likewise, staggering the release of your marketing content (if you have a large following) or making content or products accessible for a limited amount of time can create anticipation and desire amongst your Millennial audience who value the exclusive and the newest find. 




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