Seatrade Cruise Food Trends: Bring on the Asian Fusion, But Hold the Hummus

A new Seatrade report says Eastern Mediterranean and Asian fusion food options are in demand, and ordering apps and virtual menus are all the rage on cruise ships. It also notes that the global food and beverage market for cruise ships is expected to be an astonishing USD$8.9 trillion by 2026.

On food alone, Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Group and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings spent $863m, $653m and $263m, respectively, in 2022.

Based on findings from this 2024 Cruise F&B Trends Report, tendencies towards local culinary options are set to continue, surpassed only by demand for authentic cultural food experiences and immersive dining. Collectively, this indicates momentum through experiential dining and/or opportunities for passengers to connect with communities visited via their gastronomy.

Asked to identify the top three food trends most likely to take off during the period 2024/25, respondents opted for authentic cultural food experiences (45.21%), immersive dining (32.88%) and local culinary options (31.51%). The latter is down on last year’s figure, when local culinary scored highest (61.11%), followed by sustainable seafood (35.19%) and meat substitutes (24.07%). This year‘s results imply progress towards experiential dining. Dining experiences considered ‘Instagramable’ also scored highly, amassing 19.18% of the vote compared to the 18.52% scored in the 2023 report.

Cruise ship cuisine will continue to be expansive through 2024 and beyond. Survey participants foresee several varieties of international cuisine taking off in particular, ranging from Asian fusion with the highest number of votes (54.79%) to Levantine (such as hummus and baba ghanoush) with the least amount of votes (5.48%). A firm favourite continues to be Eastern Mediterranean cuisine (49.32%), which outstripped all other options in the previous Cruise F&B Trends Report. In this survey, it surpassed international BBQ (39.73%), Indian (32.88%), Southeast Asian (28.77%) and Caribbean (26.03%). Balkan and British fusion each scored 8.22%, followed by West African at 6.85%. 8.22% of survey participants indicated ‘other,’ listing a combination of brunch, Korean, Kosher, Peruvian and South American cuisine.

Survey results suggest a focus on health and well-being in regard to drinking. Quizzed on the top three drinks trends predicted to take off in 2024/25, low-to-no-alcohol beverages amassed 46.58% of votes, health/wellness supplement drinks gathered 39.73% of votes and low-to-no-calorie beverages, 30.14% of votes.

Ordering apps (56.76%), virtual menus (47.30%), artificial intelligence for supply chain and waste management (43.24%) and self-service ordering kiosks (40.54%) rank as the most likely technological innovations to be found within the cruise industry in the years to come. Just under a third cast their vote for QR codes and contactless ordering – each accumulating 31.08% of votes – while pre-ordering software and automated delivery/service robots each received 29.73%, and cloud technologies for restaurant management scored 28.38%. The remaining 1.35% who selected ‚other‘ said they predict a ‘return to basics.‘

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