Around 24.7 million people took an ocean, expedition or river cruise in 2016, surpassing industry predictions of 24.2 million, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
Globally, the 2016 CLIA fleet comprised 458 ships and welcomed 26 new vessels, including for the ocean market and 17 for the river cruise sector. Collectively, the new ships represent an additional 28,000 passenger capacity.
The Caribbean, Mediterranean and the rest of Europe were the three most popular destinations, attracting 35%, 18.5% and 11.1% of passengers respectively. These destinations were followed by Asia (9.2%), Australia/New Zealand/Pacific (6.1%), Alaska (4.2%) and South America (2.5%).
However, CLIA has attributed much of the industry’s growth to the continuing development of the Asian market, with ocean capacity in the region rising 38% from 2015 to hit 9.2% in 2016.
“One of the many reasons that the cruise industry continues to thrive is because of the personalisation it is able to offer to its guests from around the world,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA. “Never before have I been a part of or seen an industry that is so good at listening and reacting to what its customers want, and this is why we are going to see our industry continue to grow.”
Based on the current new vessel launch schedule and expected regional deployment, CLIA estimates that global passenger numbers will reach 25.8 million.