CLIA report finds new-to-cruise surge since the pandemic

Findings from the latest State of the Cruise Industry Report

Credit: Fernando Jorge/Unsplash

The cruise industry has attracted an increasing number of new-to-cruise travellers since the pandemic, with a 27% jump in the past two years, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has reported.

According to the newly released State of the Cruise Industry Report, cruising is a top choice for multi-generational travellers, with one-third of families sailing with at least two generations; and expedition cruising is the fastest-growing segment on water, with the number of passengers taking expeditions voyages skyrocketing 71% between 2019 and 2023.

CLIA reported that travel advisors have a meaningful influence on travellers’ decisions to cruise; with the main driver being an advisor’s “knowledge and experience”. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of cruise travellers around the world said they relied on a travel advisor to assist them with their cruise holiday choices.

Extract from CLIA's 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report

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Globally, 31.7 million people cruised in 2023, up 6.8% from 29.7 million in 2019. North America lead the charge accounting for more than half the total number, with a whopping 18.1 million cruisers – an increase of 17.5% compared to 15.4 million in 2019. Europe was up 6.5% to 8.2 million, and South America – the region with the lowest passenger volumes – was up 6.6% to 935,000.

Australasia was 1.4 million in 2023, moving a fraction from the 1.35 million recorded four years earlier, whereas Asia continues to lag with its COVID rebound, down nearly 38% on 2019.

CLIA has forecast that in 2024 the total number of cruise passengers will reach 35.7 million, rising to 39.4 million by 2027.

Extract from CLIA's 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report

The average age of a cruise traveller has decreased to 46, according to CLIA’s latest Cruise Traveler Sentiment, Perception and Intent Survey of cruise travellers who have sailed in the past two years.

While a global industry, the overwhelming bulk of cruising takes place in the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda, which account for 44.2% of passenger demand. The Mediterranean and Europe combined represent 28.9%, Alaska 5.7%, the US West Coast (including Mexico, California and the Pacific Coast) 5.6%, Asia and China 4.6% and Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific, only 2.4%.

US cruise travellers lead the way in terms of source, with CLIA reporting 16.9 million people from that market cruised in 2023, up from 14.2 million before the pandemic, in 2019.

Germany is the second largest source market with 2.5 million cruisers (down 3% from 2019), followed by the UK (2.2m, up 15%), Australia (1.2m, up 1%) and then Canada (1m, down 1%). China, which was the fourth largest cruise source market in 2019 with 1.9 million cruisers is still heavily impacted by the pandemic, with numbers down 92% to 156,800.

Extract from CLIA's 2024 State of the Cruise Industry Report

The report also confirms that eight CLIA-member ships will launch in 2024, including in the luxury space; Cunard’ Queen Anne in June, Explora Journeys’ EXPLORA II and Siversea’s Silver Ray in August.

Meanwhile, the 2024-2028 Orderbook for new ships currently stands at 56 ships and 121,000 lower berths, valued at US$38 million, as of March 2024, so the figures exclude the new order this week for NCLH of 8 ships, and today’s order by Windstar Cruises for two ships.

View the full report here.

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