What is absolutely certain is that this is going to be a very exciting year for ship launches - and particularly for us here at Mundy, as all our focus is on small, luxury and expedition. We are used to the great big vessels grabbing the headlines, but this year is rather different.
Whilst there will be some notable big ship launches - including Celebrity's second Edge Class vessel, Celebrity Apex, the very first ship from new entrant Virgin Voyages, P&O's new ship for Britain, Iona, and more - the little ships will have a much higher showing than normal.
We get off to a great start with Regent's new sister to Seven Seas Explorer, the lovely Splendor (read Alex's report for more details). Meanwhile expedition offerings from Lindblad, Mystic, Ponant, Hurtigruten and Quark will continue transforming the face of adventure.
In the arena of sheer luxury, Ritz-Carlton's delayed first vessel Evrima (300 guests) is due in June, as well as Silversea's Silver Origin, purpose built for the Galapagos, and Silver Moon, a welcome addition to the classic fleet.
More exciting than any is going to be the extraordinary Crystal Endeavor, where the ultimate in luxury meets the ultimate in expedition. Watch out for her in Japan in August, as the Olympics come to an end.
Along with Japan, other destinations to watch in 2020 include the Great Lakes, off-the-beaten-track wilderness options, and, closer to home, Portugal. We are also pleased to see a return to the Eastern Mediterranean, and even the Black Sea. Egypt is back on the up, and we hope and pray for an easier future for this extraordinary country, with its amazing treasures and welcoming people.
Sustainability is now firmly top of the agenda, and we are pushing our partners for a clearer vision for the future, as they pull together many strands to include cutting-edge green technology, investment in the countries and communities they visit, an awareness of the challenges of overtourism, reduced emissions, great recycling and waste disposal strategies, and deep respect for the oceans and lands of the world resulting in high investment in responsible innovation. Along the same lines we are seeing many more plant-based menus introduced within the wide range of food options on offer.
Key also is a shift in the attitude of sophisticated travellers, who put a high value on personal relationships and adult-to-adult communications. Online booking appears to be cheap and easy, but all too often it is time consuming and frustrating. The 2019 collapse of Thomas Cook underlined the need for good financial protection, from stable and trustworthy travel outlets, and this will increasingly be something travellers seek out when making their plans.
With high awareness of their carbon footprint, people are going to make sure every trip counts - the throwaway culture we have seen in the fashion industry has to an extent also applied to travel, with lots of short breaks and low cost getaways. Now we are seeing that whilst people will still commit to a long-haul flight, they are becoming more inclined to take the time to explore in depth and stay away for longer, investing in major travel experiences to create a lifetime of memories.