With global cruise passenger numbers jumping from 24.2 million to 24.7 million in 2016, the cruise industry appears to be moving in the right direction.
When it comes to the key factors behind this, Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), believes there are a number of things at play.
“One driving factor behind the continued growth is the constant evolution in order to appeal to both new and current cruise travellers, from millennials to baby boomers,” she says. “The ever-expanding variety of cruise options – including durations, diverse destinations, and varied itineraries – allows a completely customisable experience for every type of travel personality of every generation. This personalised travel opportunity especially lends itself to younger generations, as feedback from millennials has shown interest in cruising among the group continues to rise, creating a new ‘cruise generation’. In fact, CLIA’s recent Cruise Industry Sentiment Consumer Outlook Report found that 49% of millennials expressed that interest in cruise travel has increased greatly within the last year.”
Continued investment in new ships and ship upgrades is also having a hugely positive effect on the industry.
“In 2017 alone, cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 brand new ocean, river, and speciality ships for a total investment of more than US$6.8 billion in new vessels,” D’Aoust confirms.
CLIA supports policies and practices that foster a safe, secure, healthy and sustainable cruise ship environment. The association is committed to promoting the cruise travel experience and, this year, areas of particular focus include creating a positive economic impact globally.
“When it comes to economic impact, CLIA’s 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Report found that cruise industry expenditures generated US$117 billion in total output worldwide in the last year, supporting 956,597 full-time equivalent employees who earned US$38 billion in income in 2015,” D’Aoust says. “Our focus continues to be on creating jobs and supporting the global economy while offering travellers their best cruise vacation.”
As in many industries, the cruise sector is upping its efforts to adopt up-to-date ‘green’ policies and be environmentally aware.
“We are constantly educating ourselves on the most effective eco-friendly practices in order to lessen cruising’s carbon footprint while offering cruisers the best trip possible,” D’Aoust says. “From recycling initiatives to onboard dedicated environmental officers to smart ships with solar capabilities and reduced energy consumption; the cruise industry continues to focus on the environment.”
The future looks bright for the cruise industry. This year, CLIA has predicted a rise in passenger numbers to 25.8 million. But what is the association doing to ensure this vision becomes a reality?
“CLIA regularly takes the pulse of today’s travellers through consumer research and as a result of these findings, the industry evolves to respond to consumer demand by offering a variety of cruise vacations for every type of traveller,” D’Aoust explains. “We have found that new ships, new experiences and new destinations will continue to be key drivers in attracting travellers to the cruise vacation experience and engaging with repeat cruisers.”
One area of the market to see strong growth of late is small ship cruising.
“More travellers are interested in small ship cruising due to a few factors: an array of destinations including some that are unattainable by bigger ships; small ship itineraries at a variety of price points which makes budget-conscious travellers more likely to book a small ship trip; and a more intimate travel experience that small ship cruising offers,” D’Aoust says.
With positive current momentum within the cruise industry, CLIA will be doing all it can to ensure the good vibes continue. “CLIA is the global organisation that fosters our members’ success by advocating, educating and promoting the common interests of the cruise community,” D’Aoust says. “We will continue to work with key stakeholders around the world to increase economic benefits, create dynamic business-to-business opportunities and engage and educate travel agents. As the cruising continues to grow and evolve at a record pace, it is more important than ever for CLIA to operate as the singular voice and advocate on behalf of the cruise industry.”