Charting a course in the post-Covid cruise market

Cruise companies and destinations must consider new trends as they rebound from the pandemic

Charting a course in the post-Covid cruise market

Hamburg Port Consulting

Hamburg Port Consulting conducted research on behalf of advisors to the Tobago House of Assembly

By Hartmut Beyer |

It is difficult to judge just how lasting the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic will be on the cruise industry.

Undoubtedly, the two-year pause had a significant impact on companies and destinations. But the extent to which that impact continues to affect the market today is an issue which industry stakeholders are having to weigh up in their strategies as they look to return to pre-pandemic success.

As part of a campaign to assess the regeneration of passenger shipping following the Covid-19 pandemic, Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC) has analysed the latest market trends on behalf of a group of advisors to the Tobago House of Assembly. Its findings reveal welcome news for the island, showing that the Caribbean/Bahamas/Bermuda region firmly remains the number one cruising destination globally.

However, perhaps less predictable are the research’s findings on the age demographic of cruisers, of which there are nearly 30 million each year. The findings show that the age bracket of 20 to 59 accounted for 52 per cent of all passengers with an average age of 47. This somewhat belies the popular belief that retirees make up the majority; the actual proportion of guests aged over 60 is actually 33 per cent.

As regards to the region or origin for these passengers, HPC’s investigations found that in the three years between 2016 to 2019 around 88 per cent of the source market was made up of a combination of North America, Western Europe and Asia, with North America (comprising USA, Canada and Mexico) contributing over half the market. The way in which these source markets fluctuate in their demand for cruises is clearly impacted by the economic prospects in each region or their sub-regions.

Cruise operators typically develop itineraries for their vessels based on the convenience of departure ports, the attractiveness of ports of call or stop-over destinations on the route and the connectivity of the final port of call. The operators’ costs and profitability are, of course, significant considerations and are weighed against the price options offered in the various source market regions and the standards of accommodation offered.

The Covid-19 pandemic inflicted estimated economic activity losses of around $77 billion globally according to Cruise Lines International Association’s 2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook. However, the industry has strenuously implemented protocols to address and mitigate any ongoing effects of Covid, and 2023-2024 is forecast to meet, and in some regions exceed, pre-pandemic passenger levels.

For the future, HPC underlines that the industry must also continue to collaborate with local communities to balance the needs of destinations, mitigate over-tourism, maintain the visitor experience and operate in pursuit of net carbon-neutral cruising by 2050.

HPC has the expertise to support cruise industry stakeholders, including port and state tourism authorities, cruise line operators and those seeking guidance to expand and develop their strategic cruise ambitions.

Hartmut Beyer is the authorised representative and cruise specialist at HPC

Contact author


Subscribe to the Cruise & Ferry newsletter

  • ©2024 Tudor Rose. All Rights Reserved. Cruise & Ferry is published by Tudor Rose.