Research on millennials leads us to believe that they are risk-taking, adventure-seeking, passionate, experience-craving, spontaneous world travelers.
Not convinced? Six out of 10 millennials prefer to spend their money on experiences, rather than material things. That’s because they travel for outdoor adventures and cultural enrichment. Of course, like any other traveler, they seek some R&R on the road as well.
Given this information, a cruise—especially a luxury one—is not the type of trip you’d think millennials would enjoy. Stereotypes place millennials in campsites with Wi-Fi or high-tech hotels, driving or biking across countries to take in everything possible. Not lounging on a deck with a fruity drink in hand listening to some corny tunes played by an old polka band. And you’re right, to some extent.
The very high-end Azamara Club Cruises targets and successfully attracts travelers aged 40-70 with lots of money to throw away on an expensive and luxurious vacation (U.S. News and World Report ranked Azamara as No. 4 on their list of Best Luxury Cruise Lines), fancy wine, and gambling—basically, the baby boomer generation. You won’t find many tech-obsessed 25-year-olds aboard Azamara’s two ships, unless their parents paid for it.
However, if the above is true about the millennial traveler, the reasons below prove that these marble-floored, fine-wine-serving, DJ-free ships are perfect for them.
With occupancies of 686, both of Azamara’s ships—Journey and Quest—are fractions of the sizes of the megaships that crowd the seas now. You won’t find any waterslides, bowling alleys, celebrity chefs or boy bands on an Azamara voyage, which is why Azamara does not attract families or party-animals. The company focuses more on what they can offer guests off the ship—shore excursions—than what they can offer on deck, therefore guests can expect to find extensive and unique tours in every port—think a farm tour of Turkey’s countryside. Because of their small size, these ships can dock at smaller ports unlike most other ships (read: more destinations, less crowds). If you’re itinerary includes a Greek island you’ve never heard of, don’t be surprised. In fact, be excited because it’s bound to be untouched by tourists and much more authentic. If you’re willing to trade in water slides for empty beaches—which it seems most millennials are—you’ll do just fine on an Azamara cruise.
Unlike most cruise lines, Azamara practically pushes guests off the ship, encouraging local exploration. They have multiple programs focused on helping guests immerse themselves in the destination they are visiting. For example, Cruise Global, Eat Local takes guests to hole-in-the-wall local restaurants and Insider Access takes guests away from the tourist spots and into the ancestral homes, family farms or shops of residents who make up the local community. Most adventure-seekers prefer to explore on their own, however, which Azamara promotes by having a local expert on board every morning to give public transportation tips, dining recommendations, and more. It’s a culture-seeker’s dream.
Most of Azamara’s port stops feature overnight or late night stays (8 p.m. or later, while most cruises call it a night at around 5 p.m.). Travelers are encouraged to get off the ship and explore the nightlife—there’s almost always someone onboard who can recommend a local restaurant or bar—plus Azamara offers night tours for those who’d rather someone else do all the work. Basically, there are very few days at sea (usually one, which is when the minor relaxing millennials crave happens either by the pool or at the spa) because they usually sail through the night, which is ideal for the culture-junkie and hell for the typical cruiser. For travelers dead after a day of exploring, dinner with views of the port at one of the onboard restaurants, which usually feature dishes made of locally sourced ingredients, will satisfy.
It’s Worth the Splurge
While a cruise with Azamara doesn’t come cheap, apparently, millennials can afford it. Milliennials are expected to spend incrementally more on travel services than any other age demographic during the next 12 months. They’re even booking more business class seats. And since they prefer to spend their startup-earned money on experiences while squeezing in some time to relax, millennials should be spending that cash on the sea’s best-kept secret, Azamara.
Now that the secret’s out, however, we have a feeling Azamara will begin to see a few young travelers sprinkled in among the usual 60-something retirees, if not a flood of them.
Maggie Parker is Paste Magazine’s assistant travel editor.