As we look ahead to the rest of 2014, I wanted to update the readers of International Cruise & Ferry Review on the latest happenings with both CLIA and the global cruise industry – an industry that generates US$100 billion in economic impact, supports 775,000 jobs and is responsible for US$33 billion in wages.
This past year has seen significant progress as CLIA established additional associations in Germany, Italy and Spain. CLIA now represents the industry through 13 regional associations worldwide and we have 63 member cruise lines from four continents – Asia, Australia, Europe and North America. CLIA member lines today represent over 95% of global cruise capacity.
We now have the scale and scope to shape the operating environment anywhere our member lines sail. CLIA is a powerful global advocate for its cruise line members, dedicated to creating an economic, regulatory and legislative environment where the cruise industry can continue to grow and thrive.
CLIA is also continuing to enhance the offerings it provides to its Executive Partner and travel agent and agency members. We have redesigned the Executive Partner programme, which is comprised of 250 port authorities, destinations and maritime and industry suppliers who are important partners to the cruise lines and play a major role in cruising’s success. We bring partners together at multiple forums and conferences around the world to share information, interact with one another and CLIA member lines, review best practices and discuss emerging issues. The programme now offers regional and global membership levels that provide a wealth of new opportunities to help these key suppliers build their businesses.
We have also formed a Global Ports Committee to establish a forum where cruise lines and ports from around the world can come together to discuss port-related issues of mutual interest. The committee will help to more fully integrate port development and operations within the larger cruise industry.
Travel agents are integral to the cruise business, responsible for booking a majority of cruise vacations. CLIA is now the world’s largest travel agent association, and our commitment to our more than 13,500 global travel agency members who reach over 50,000 agent members has never been stronger.
Our mission today is that same that it was in 1975: to help our agent members grow their success by growing their cruise business. We have a myriad of programmes and initiatives planned in 2014 to support our agents’ education, helping them be highly knowledgeable cruise counsellors. This will serve cruise vacationers who will have expert guidance in picking the right cruise to match a client’s interests, tastes and travel needs – which inevitably results in a high repeat factor and positive word of mouth. And in 2014 we are confident that our agents will have exciting options to share with vacationers when it comes to cruising.
So what does the year look like for the cruise industry? We are forecasting continued growth and another record year for cruising, with 21.7 million passengers slated to take a cruise in 2014 on the heels of a record estimated 21.3 million passengers having cruised in 2013.
To meet this growing demand, CLIA member lines are forecasted to introduce 16 new ships in 2014, representing a capital investment of US$4 billion. These new ships range in capacity from river cruise ships carrying 130 passengers and fewer (Silversea Cruises’ Silver Discoverer, Scenic Cruises’ Scenic Gem and Tauck River Cruising’s Inspire and Savor) to oceangoing ships carrying over 3,500 passengers (Costa Cruises’ Diadema, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Getaway, Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess and Royal Caribbean International’s Quantum of the Seas). And new ships will continue to come online in the next few years, as we forecast an additional 20 new ships will be launched between 2015 and 2018.
Globally, the 2014 CLIA fleet is comprised of 410 ships and includes a wide variety of vessels – from large and mid-sized to small and intimate. The fleet covers all line categories: contemporary, premium, niche and destination focused, river cruises, expedition and adventure.
Next, where are cruise ships visiting? The industry’s success is headlined by the Caribbean, which continues to rank as the dominant cruise destination, accounting for over 37% of all global itineraries with the Mediterranean at 19% and Northern Europe at 11%. While these represent the most visited destinations, we’re excited that there has been growth in all global cruise regions. Australasia, for example, has seen a record 34% annual growth – with passenger numbers at an all-time high. The number of Australians taking a cruise has nearly tripled over five years. As we look ahead, our industry is expanding into new markets and developing fantastic new itineraries that will bring our passengers to more ports in more countries than ever before.
Finally, how is business shaping up? We went straight to a knowledgeable source – surveying 500 CLIA travel agents. They expressed optimism for the cruise industry, with over 70% expecting their cruise sales to range from good to excellent in 2014. That’s a strong endorsement given that more than 60% of respondents report overall cruise and travel sales ranged in 2013 from good to excellent. With first-time cruisers a key barometer for our industry’s continued growth, we were pleased to find that nearly 90% of respondents reported level or increased sales among first-time cruisers. When asked to compare cruising to land vacations, agents hit on a number of key points of differentiation including ease – booking and taking of a cruise, especially to international destinations; the ability to see multiple destinations in a single vacation; time spent together; and the ability to make new friends.
There remains strong consumer interest in cruising and to meet that demand, cruise lines are making significant investments in a diverse range of new ships that travel to the most exotic locations in the world. The cruise industry is one of the most in-demand sectors of the vacation market worldwide – and CLIA is committed to supporting its responsible growth across the globe. For over 21 million passengers a year, cruising is one of the most enjoyable, affordable and safe holiday vacation experiences available today.
This article appeared in the Spring/Summer 2014 edition of International Cruise & Ferry Review. To read other articles, you can subscribe to the magazine in printed or digital formats.