The world’s cruise tourism sector is predicted to overtake pre-pandemic totals this year and growing by nearly 20% by 2028.
According to the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2023 State of the Cruise Industry Report, cruise tourism is expected to reach 106% of 2019 levels this year, with around 31.5 mill people taking a cruise.
In 2019, the cruise sector played host to 29.7 mill persons. By 2024, this figure is expected to grow to 36 mill, rising to 37.2 mill by the following year and hitting 39.5 mill by 2027.
Global cruise ship capacity is set to grow by 19% offering over 746,000 lower berths from 2022 and 2028. Another 4 mill people are needed by 2025 with newcomers to cruising being key to filling the capacity. Some 85% of those that have taken a cruise will return, a figure which is about 6% higher than pre-pandemic levels.
CLIA also claimed that the cruise industry’s future lies with the younger generation, with GenX and Millennials being the most likely to cruise. It was also found that younger people were also using travel advisors to book cruises at a higher rate than other generations.
Cruise ship passengers also spent an average of $750 per person in port cities throughout a typical seven-day voyage, CLIA said.
North America remained the largest market, but a major upsurge was seen elsewhere, including the Mediterranean. The Caribbean remained the number one destination choice for cruise passengers.
Environmental issues are at the forefront of cruise lines thinking. The companies are now using technology, infrastructure and operations to de-carbonise their operations, with many pilot projects underway and new propulsion technologies being planned and tested to reduce emissions.
For example, 60% of the ships scheduled for delivery between 2023 and 2028 will use LNG for their primary fuel, the study said, while 75% of CLIA’s fleet is now able to switch to sustainable fuels once they become available at scale.
In addition, the number of ships fitted with shore power equipment is set to more than double by 2028.
Currently 30% of cruise ships, representing 40% of capacity, have plug-in equipment fitted. Another 30% are due to be retrofitted.
Some 29 cruise ports worldwide have at least one berth where shore power is available with 20 more already funded or planned to have shoreside power by 2025.
This year will see 14 newbuilding cruise ships enter service with a total of 44 planned to start cruising between 2023 and 2028, CLIA said.
Its membership stands at 53 cruise company members – 43 deepsea and 10 river cruise ship operators.