How a Cruise Vacation Can Be Empowering for Black American Travelers

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Given our travel habits and spending power, Black Americans contribute significantly to the US and the global tourism economy. A study by the marketing firm Global MMGY reveals that Black American travelers spent an estimated $109.4 billion in 2019, accounting for about 13.1% of the total US leisure travel market. Travel spending is equally significant among members of the National Coalition of Black Meeting Professionals (NCBMP), as they spend an average of over $900,000 annually on business meetings.

However, there are still reports of Black travelers feeling unwelcome in some destinations. Organizations including the Black Travel Alliance and Nomadness Travel Tribe continue to place pressure on the travel industry to pay attention to the needs and concerns of Black travelers and other underrepresented groups. Fortunately, cruise lines are among the sectors introducing changes in their operations, offerings, and overall business models to be more welcoming for Black American passengers. Here’s a closer look at these key changes.

Embracing diversity in cruise operations

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One of the ways the cruise industry has embraced diversity and inclusion is by allowing Black travel professionals to lead and oversee cruise operations. For example, Hurtigruten Group established the Black Traveler Advisory Board (BTAB), consisting of travel advisors, tourism organizational leaders, entrepreneurs, and community influencers whose main focus is increasing the visibility and representation of Black travelers in Hurtigruten’s expedition cruises to the Arctic and along the Norwegian coast. This involves identifying Black scientists as potential onboard lecturers, increasing the representation of Black travelers in marketing materials, and incorporating learnings from Black explorers into cruise itineraries. Such efforts underscore the value of Black travelers while also finding ways to better serve them as an important travel audience.

Offering destinations that explore Black culture and history

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It is also essential for Black travelers to feel empowered not just onboard but, more importantly, through destinations and itineraries organized just for us. This is why aside from offering the usual cruises to Northern Europe and the Mediterranean region, Explora Journeys curates a wide array of Destination Experiences that allow passengers to explore and experience firsthand Black communities’ rich culture, arts, and history. Travelers of this luxury cruise line can choose journeys that take them to the Caribbean region, where most Black immigrants in the US come from. Excursions range from the St. Nicholas Abbey heritage tour in Barbados to an art and painting masterclass at the Old Mill Cultural Center in the Dominican Republic. There are also Black-owned cruises like Blue Travel World that offer cultural experiences to the African diaspora through church services, ballroom dancing, and soul food-inspired buffets.

Creating spaces that celebrate Black communities and advocacies

Cruises can also serve as a space where Black Americans can come together to support one another. Take, for example, how American radio personality Tom Joyner’s Fantastic Voyage Cruise taps legendary performers like Lauryn Hill to perform live music in Black genres like R&B, soul, funk, gospel, and hip-hop. What’s even more interesting is that this annual cruise, in partnership with Royal Caribbean’s Independence of the Seas journey, aims to support Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) through its proceeds — hence staying true to its tagline of ‘Party with a Purpose.’

As cruising increasingly becomes a viable mode of global travel for Black Americans, it’s crucial to practice ‘Essential Tips for Healthy Traveling’ regardless of the length of the trip or where the journey takes you. These include consulting with your doctor before the trip, digitizing your medical records for easy access, and packing enough medication, especially since certain supplies can be hard to access in some ports.

For more guides and resources catered to Black travelers, check out the rest of the articles here at Blaxit Global.

Chrishan Wright is the visionary behind Blaxit Global—an influential platform inspiring and empowering the African diaspora to embrace a life abroad. As the dynamic host of the Blaxit Global Podcast, Chrishan amplifies the stories of Black expats, weaving a narrative that transcends boundaries.

Chrishan's impact extends far beyond the podcast, as she's become a sought-after freelance journalist and speaker. Her compelling insights have garnered attention from media outlets including The New York Times, HuffPost, PBS, InStyle Magazine, The Houston Chronicle, Travel Noire, and more. As a speaker, she brings a unique perspective on the intersection of culture, identity, and the transformative power of relocation.

Beyond her professional pursuits, Chrishan is a devoted mother to two adult children. Fueling her passion for exploration, she embarked on her own journey, leaving the United States in 2023 to call Lisbon, Portugal, home. Chrishan's story is not just about relocation; it's a testament to the profound impact of embracing change and finding empowerment in the global tapestry of life. Join Chrishan on this transformative journey and let her experiences inspire your own adventure abroad.

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