A total of 25.3 million passengers are expected to sail in 2017, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
CLIA’s 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook found that passenger numbers have surged from 15.8 million in 2007, and this number is set to continue rising as the industry debuts 26 new ocean, river and speciality cruise ships in 2017. 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 Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA. “From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to the desires of today’s travellers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world.”
CLIA predicts that the trends that will have the most impact on the cruise industry will include:
1. New generation takes to the water – a recent study found that Millennials and Generation X will embrace cruise travel more than ever before, rating it as better than land-based holidays, all-inclusive resorts, tours, holiday home rentals, or camping.
2. Travel agent use increases – CLIA is forecasting that travel agents will continue to play a key role in matching travellers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010. CLIA also found that cruisers report high levels of satisfaction with their travel experience when assisted by an agent.
3. River cruise demand increases – CLIA cruise line members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships, and an additional 13 river vessels are on order for 2017 – a 7% increase.
4. More private islands on cruise itineraries – cruise lines will offer ports on a total of seven private islands in 2017.
5. New cruisers will take to the sea – interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of holidays might be of interest in the next three years, 48% of non-cruisers expressed interest in ocean cruising, while 85% of cruisers also expressed interest.
6. Drivable port locations in favour – almost 70% of non-cruisers believe the greatest benefit of close port locations is cost savings and 74% cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
7. Lure of celeb chefs – cruise travellers are embracing speciality dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs.
8. Demand for expedition cruises – according to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is growing at a record pace and cruise expeditions are seeing the impact.