We recently caught up with Matt Meltzer, travel writer for Matador Network, on all things cruise. Read on to hear Matt’s personal experiences while at sea and his take on how millennial consumers are shaping the industry.
As a travel writer/influencer, relatively new to cruising, what is your impression of this method of travel?
I wouldn't say I’m new, per se. I remember crushing the midnight buffet on a family cruise when I was 10 and definitely did some spring break cruises after that. I love it for what it is: a self-contained, carefree, highly mass-produced travel experience that doesn't require much thought but is still loads of fun. You can't go expecting a deep cultural experience with some life-changing vacation. However, for fun, good food and relaxation, I love it.
Why do you think it appeals to a millennial audience?
Because millennials have ruined everything, they need, like, ONE thing people can credit them with bringing back. In all seriousness though, it caters to the narrative that millennials like to do a lot of different things for short periods of time, so hitting four to five ports on a trip fits right into that wheelhouse. Also, because apparently millennials will never be able to afford a house, retire or drive anything nicer than a Bird scooter, the price point appeals to them.
As an unofficial voice of the today’s millennial traveler, what are cruise lines doing well?
Well, that's my new Instagram tagline, thank you.
Cruise lines are keeping prices low and creating good value, which again is crucial to a generation that is going to be living off top ramen until they're 60. They've also upped the food offerings. The all you can drink packages are huge because millennials hate getting nickel and dimed (Gen X just LOVED it, right?). Also, doing stuff like overnight port calls is important because young people would rather have a story to tell about ending up at a house party in Roatan and walking four miles back to the ship at 6am because their ride turned out to be wanted by INTERPOL, than talk about that crazy night they had at the Lido deck bar.
Over the past year, we understand you have sailed on large ships in the Med and expedition ships in Antarctica? Tell us a bit about this?
The large ship in the Med was Harmony of the Seas, and it was an inaugural cruise that went off Barcelona about three miles, sailed in circles and sailed back. It was great. It was also a 48-hour open bar, so take that for what it is. The Silversea Silver Cloud I took down to Antarctica was the most luxurious thing I've ever done, calling the butler for more wine while we sailed past epic icebergs. Don't get me wrong, there were days where walking down the halls of that ship was like going home down Bourbon street at 4am; the Drake Passage is so rough. Hands down though, it’s the best way to see Antarctica with fantastic food, endless drinks, ultimate luxury and scientists onboard to explain it all. If you've got the money (starts at like $12k) this is the ultimate vacation.
2019 will be your first year attending Seatrade, meeting the cruise lines and so many destinations under one roof in the Miami Beach Convention Center. What are you looking forward to seeing/learning?
I’m excited to see the new destinations cruise lines are putting on itineraries. Also, the crazy onboard amenities that are planned. It seems like a constant game of one-upmanship like "Oh, you did a ten-story slide? Here's a freaking GO KART TRACK, what you got?" So, I’m expecting an onboard, fully restored 15th century French Monastery on something this year.
Any countries you are interested in seeing at Seatrade?
Dominica, I think, just because they've had such a chance to reinvent themselves post-Maria. It lends itself really well to cruise passengers since you can do hikes in half a day and experience the best that island has to offer. Also, Turkey, maybe.
As a Miami influencer, what should attendees be sure to check out while in Miami/Miami Beach? If you had a group of four tourism reps from Hong Kong, France or Montreal, what would you suggest they see while in Miami?
They absolutely have to head down to Little Havana and cruise the street there. Grab a mojito and a cigar and walk the few blocks stopping in at the different bars and cafeterias. Get a rooftop drink at Sugar in Brickell to see the whole city at once and go just before sunset. Then stroll around Wynwood and see the epic outdoor museum, especially around the Wynwood walls. If you don't want to leave the beach, spend some time in South Pointe Park and do a happy hour at Smith and Wollensky as the cruise ships sail out. South Beach and Ocean Drive are worth seeing for, like, five-minutes, so you can say you've been there, but by no means order any drink there that advertises "3 for 1.'
Join Matt Meltzer and 11,000+ cruising professionals at the 2019 edition of Seatrade Cruise Global. Register to attend today!