Just before the holiday break, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released the ‘2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook’.
This report offers an in-depth look at the cruise industry’s overall global economic impact, as well as the trends impacting cruise travel in 2018.
Current data shows a projected 27.2 mill pax are expected to take a cruise this year. In 2017, an estimated 25.8 mill pax cruised, compared to a confirmed 24.7 mill in 2016, an increase of 20.5% over five years from 2011-2016.
To meet ongoing demand, more ships are scheduled to enter service in 2018. CLIA Cruise Lines members are scheduled to introduce 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships this year.
“It is without question that the cruise industry continues on a growth trajectory, gaining in consumer interest and creating a positive impact on the global economy,” said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA President and CEO (pictured). “The ‘2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook’ is a way for us to keep a finger on the pulse of the global cruise industry and its impact on the global economy and identify new travel trends that will influence cruise travel in the future.”
CLIA also reported on the global economic impact of the cruise industry in 2016. Cruise industry expenditures generated $126 bill in total output worldwide, supporting more than one million full-time equivalent employees who earned $41 bill in income, an increase from previous years.
In its latest outlook, CLIA has forecast the top nine cruise travel trends for 2018.
All Budgets Will Cruise – The soon to be released, 2018 Cruise Travel Report found that almost all income brackets are cruising. In fact, a third (33%) of the cruisers surveyed who have taken a cruise within the past three years, have a household income less than $80,000. While the data shows cruising does skew a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of vacations, the report indicates almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.
Transformational Cruise Travel – The next evolution of experiential travel sees travellers taking a step further and seeking ‘transformational’ experiences. From cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures, those returning from a cruise will have shift in perspective and a sense of accomplishment. Some upcoming cruise itineraries include the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine, guided tours through small villages and even visits inside private homes. Thrill-seekers can fill bucket lists with chances to swim with sharks in South Africa, ride a Harley Davidson in Alaska or mingle among penguins in the Arctic.
Sustainability at Sea – In the coming year there with be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism. Travellers can look forward participating in sustainable practices both on board and off from recycling and waste management to popular voluntourism initiatives that focus on creating a positive environmental and social impact at destinations around the globe.
Millennials Take to the River—River and small ship cruising continues to gain traction among travellers, specifically the Millennial set. With ever-expanding itineraries and destination experiences that reach far beyond walking and coach tours and endless options for the perfect ‘Instagram moment,’ the younger generation is embracing river cruising.
Skip-Gen Cruising – Multi-generational cruising is projected to increase in popularity, as forecast by CLIA’s Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook in April 2017. But there’s a twist: ‘skip-generation’ trips, with grandparents and grandchildren travelling together without their parents, are predicted to be highly popular in 2018 and beyond.
Travellers Warm to Chilly Destinations –The coming year is projected to see an increase in popularity of colder climate destinations including the Baltic, Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica. With an array of unique excursion options, from penguin watching to ice fishing, these winter wonder destinations are drawing in both new and repeat cruise travellers.
Healthy Doses – Travellers are seeking health and wellness trips more than ever before and the cruise industry is responding with services and experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travellers can participate in on board health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programmes, stress management, and spa services. There are even entire cruise itineraries dedicated to weight management and healthy living including Weight Watchers cruises and menus for a variety of dietary needs from diabetic-friendly to plant-based.
Smart Travel Technology— The coming year there will be a rise in traveller-friendly on board technologies. Several cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that provide a personalised and seamless experience while on board. Ranging from key chains to bracelets to necklaces and more, wearable technology on cruises interacts with sensors on the ship in order to do everything from turning the lights on as a cruiser approaches their cabin to acting as a security agent.
Tapping Travel Agents – Travel agents continue to see a steady demand from consumers in planning and executing vacations. Some of the largest factors behind continued popularity of travel agents? Ease of planning, valued expertise, and affordability.