Almost 40 million people will cruise annually by 2027, predicts CLIA

New 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report shows that 71 per cent of international travellers are considering cruising for the first time

Almost 40 million people will cruise annually by 2027, predicts CLIA

By Rebecca Gibson |

Nearly 40 million people are expected to cruise annually by 2027, according to new statistics published in Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report.

Figures from the report indicate that the number of travellers choosing a cruise in 2023 totalled 31.7 million, a seven per cent increase from 2019. Cruise travel is also rebounding faster than other forms of international travel according to CLIA, reaching 107 per cent of 2019 levels in 2023. In contrast, overall international tourism arrivals were 12 per cent lower.

The Caribbean, Mediterranean and Europe retained their positions as the world’s three most-visited cruise destinations, welcoming 44.2 per cent, 18.5 per cent and 10.4 per cent of passengers respectively. In total, 12.9 million cruise guests visited the Caribbean – up one million from 2019 – while the Mediterranean welcomed 5.5 million (an increase from 4.4 million in 2019), and European ports hosted three million (a rise from 2.8 million in 2019).

Meanwhile, North America, Europe and Asia remained the three biggest passenger source markets. Both the North America and Europe source markets grew significantly from 2019, increasing 17.5 per cent to hit 18.1 million in the former and rising 6.5 per cent to reach 8.2 million in Europe. However, there was a 37.7 per cent drop in Asia over the same period, with total passenger numbers decreasing from 3.7 million to 2.3 million.

According to the report, there is also “continued demand” for cruise holidays in 2024 and beyond, with 82 per cent of those who have cruised before intending to do so again, and 71 per cent of international travellers considering it for the first time.

Cruises are also a “top choice” for multigenerational travel, says CLIA. More than 30 per cent of family groups on cruises comprise at least two generations, while 28 per cent sail with between three and five generations. Meanwhile, nearly 10 per cent of all cruisers are solo travellers.

Many of CLIA’s cruise line members are expanding their fleets to accommodate this growth. There will be a record 300 ships in the global fleet in 2023, and the total capacity in the global fleet is expected to increase 10 per cent between 2024 and 2028.

CLIA’s report also noted several others key trends, including a 71 per cent surge in passengers travelling on expedition itineraries from 2019 to 2023. This makes expedition and exploration are the fastest-growing sectors of cruise tourism. There has also been an uptick in the popularity of accessible tour excursions, with 45 per cent of passengers opting for them during their most recent cruise.

Read CLIA’s full 2024 State of the Industry Report.

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