How recent CLIA research highlights global cruise growth

We consider some of the findings from CLIA reports over the past six months
How recent CLIA research highlights global cruise growth
An estimated 25.8 million passengers went on a cruise in 2017, over a million more than the previous year (Image: Holland America Line)

By Sean Dudley |

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2018 issue of the International Cruise & Ferry Review. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.

As the world’s largest cruise industry trade association, it’s safe to say that Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is well placed to highlight how the industry is shaping up.

The association recently released its 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report, which examined the main trends within the global cruise industry at present, as well as identifying economic benefits and providing key demographic insights.

In 2017, an estimated 25.8 million passengers went on a cruise, compared to the 24.7 million cruise passengers that were recorded in 2016. With an increase of 20.5% over the five years between 2011-2016, a pleasing upward trend is the key take away from CLIA’s research.

Furthermore, 27.2 million passengers are expected to set sail in 2018. To account for the growth in demand, more ships are scheduled to set sail this year, with members of CLIA scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2018.

“It is without question that the cruise industry continues on a growth trajectory, gaining in consumer interest and creating a positive impact on the global economy,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA.

The 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report also included nine top trends within the cruise travel segment that are likely to be seen this year. These include a greater focus on sustainability, a preference for ‘transformational experiences’ such as cultural immersion and volunteering, an increase in popularity of colder climate destinations and a rise in traveler-friendly onboard technologies.

The report also sheds light on how far-reaching and vital the cruise industry is to the global economy. Cruise industry expenditures generated US$126 billion in total output worldwide in 2016 and, furthermore, the report indicates that the industry supports more than one million full-time equivalent employees.

In a similar vein, CLIA’s 2016 Economic Impact Analysis – released in October 2017 – found that the contribution of the global cruise industry to the US economy reached a record US$47.76 billion in 2016. This is a 3.6% increase from 2014.

“The global cruise industry is a critical contributor to the US economy and we see clear evidence of the industry’s positive impact across the country,” said D’Aoust. “We saw cruise lines purchasing goods or services in support of their operations, and passengers traveling for their cruise vacations. The cruise industry continues to prosper and set economic records, and that’s good news for cruise lines, cruise employees, suppliers and passengers.”

Towards the end of 2017, the association released its Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook report. This provided an insight into traveller behaviours, attitudes, and opinions toward both cruise and land-based travel.

The report highlighted a significant increase in millennials showing interest in cruising, with about 85% expressing an interest in cruise travel.

Furthermore, there were also indications of more interest in cruising from men. The report found that 774% of men interviewed for the report indicated an interest in cruising, while just over 50% of women said they had an interest. 71% of men also named ocean cruises as the type of vacation they are most interested in taking within the next three years.

“CLIA highly values keeping a finger on the pulse of consumer cruise attitudes and preferences in order to create an ever-improving industry based on traveller feedback,” said D’Aoust. “The Cruise Industry Consumer Outlook plays a key role in helping us continue to adapt and appeal to every type of traveller with evolving business practices, varied cruise durations, and available destinations.”

While CLIA has noted a general growth in the industry, the association is also keen to ensure the highest environmental standards are reached, and that the health of cruise passengers is protected.

“For cruise lines, keeping passengers healthy is essential to an enjoyable vacation,” said Donnie Brown, vice president of maritime policy at CLIA. “With more than 24 million passengers cruising each year from around the world, we know that prevention is key. That is why cruise lines have committed numerous resources and best practices to maintain a healthy ship environment.”

CLIA has identified sanitation, screening, medical facilities, collaboration and training as being five cornerstones that can help ensure the protection and health of passengers while onboard, helping them avoid illness and limiting the spread of disease where possible.

The cruise industry is at the forefront of sustainability innovation, and every technology that is released to enhance these efforts is being considered by cruise lines.

Emissions reduction systems; advanced wastewater treatment systems; solar panels; heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and technologies for use of LNG as an alternative fuel have all been identified by CLIA as being vital contributors to ensuring the environmental stewardship of cruise and ferry lines around the world.

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