INTERNATIONAL. The number of cruise passengers worldwide will hit 25.3 million in 2017, a rise of +4.5% year-on-year. That’s according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which has released the 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook. The figures underline the emerging opportunity for travel retail onboard cruise lines.
Next year’s forecast passenger figure represents a strong surge from 15.8 million in 2007. More ships will set sail in 2017, with CLIA reporting that cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new ocean, river and speciality ships with a total investment of more than US$6.8 billion in new vessels.
From 2017-2026 the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships totalling an estimated investment of US$53 billion through 2026.
“The cruise industry is responding to global demand and we are highly encouraged by both the short-term and long-term outlook,” said CLIA President and CEO Cindy D’Aoust.
“From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to desires of today’s travellers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world.”
Cruise industry expenditure generated US$117 billion worldwide in 2015, supporting 956,597 employees, added CLIA.
As part of the 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, CLIA has outlined the top eight cruise travel trends that will have the most impact on the cruise industry this year.
*New Generation Takes to the Water – A recent study found that younger generations—including Millennials and Generation X — will embrace cruise travel, rating it as better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals, or camping.
*Travel Agent Use Increases – According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, consumer use of a travel agent increased nearly +80% from 2015 to 2016. Supporting this, CLIA is forecasting that travel agents will continue to be the “matchmakers” between travellers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010.
*River Cruise Demand Increases – CLIA cruise line members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of +7%.
*More Private Islands on Cruise Itineraries – As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travellers are responding and booking these itineraries. In 2017, cruise lines offer ports on a total of seven private islands.
*New Cruisers Will Take to the Sea – Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years, 48% of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise while 85% of cruisers also expressed interest.
*Drivable Port Locations – Around 74% of cruisers said they liked the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
*Lure of Celeb Chefs – Cruise travellers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs, said CLIA. This year, several cruise lines opened restaurants and dishes created by famous chefs including Guy Fieri, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and Geoffrey Zakarian.
*Demand for Expedition Cruises – According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is growing at a record pace and CLIA is reporting that cruise expeditions are seeing the impact. For example, itineraries for Antarctica regularly sell out, noted CLIA.