According to a CLIA study, Alaska cruising has grown in popularity. // © 2012 Travel Impressions
Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) 2012 cruise industry update, as represented by the 26 member lines, was released at the end of last month. The update reflects significant industry growth with 143 new ships added to the fleet from 2000-2011 and 13 ships introduced in 2011, bringing in 14,886 new beds (these are CLIA lines only, so the survey does not include some of the major river cruise lines).
For 2012, CLIA’s list of new and refurbished vessels includes Pearl Seas Cruises’ Pearl Mist; Disney Cruise Line’s Fantasy; Costa Cruises’ Fascinosa; Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Reflection; MSC’s MSC Divina; Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Breeze; Oceania Cruises’ Riviera; American Cruise Lines’ Queen of the Mississippi; AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto; Avalon Waterways’ Vista, Visionary and Ankor; Uniworld Boutique River Cruises’ River Saigon and River Countess (refurbished) and Paul Gauguin’s Tere Moana (refurbished).
As of now, if no vessels are removed, the CLIA fleet will have 222 ships at year-end, with 342,012 beds, rising to 232 ships with 361,194 beds in 2015. The orderbook stands at more than $10 billion. Adding in non-CLIA ships (but not river cruise vessels), Seatrade sets the world orderbook through 2016 with 21 new ships yielding 62,851 beds at more than $14 billion. Six new vessels, with 8,109 beds, are scheduled to join the CLIA fleet in 2013, and four new ships, with 15,369 beds, are on order for 2014.
The CLIA study indicates that the top choices geographically continue to be the Caribbean, the Mediterranean, Europe/Scandinavia and Alaska.
Between 2006 and 2011, the cruise industry saw a shift in deployment that may, in part, reflect the growth of the fleet and the increased international sourcing. The Caribbean has increased 13.5 percent during that five-year period, the Mediterranean grew 109 percent, the rest of Europe including Scandinavia increased by almost 25 percent. Alaska grew by nearly 5 percent, despite the downturn with the head tax and fees issue, and the Bahamas grew by 7 percent. Trans-Atlantic cruising grew by a remarkable 111 percent, and cruising around Australia, New Zealand and the South Pacific also increased significantly, by 101 percent. Trans-Panama Canal cruises diminished by almost 4 percent, while South America increased by approximately 82 percent. Hawaii dropped by approximately 24 percent, reflecting Norwegian’s fleet reduction there, and Western Mexico declined by 32 percent.
River cruising has shown dramatic growth as well — CLIA member lines reported a 10 percent annual passenger increase over last five years, with some lines reporting higher increases. These companies have seen a rapid expansion in new ships in the past five years, with most lines doubling the size of fleet or more. Shipboard innovations have included private balconies, in-room balcony breakfasts, chefs’ tables, choice of dining venues, local dining options, sustainable cuisine, all-suite ships and new programs for active travelers, wine and food lovers.
Important news for agents: According to January 2012 CLIA Travel Agent Survey, cruising scored as number one in consumer interest and perceived value. Top destinations for this year included Alaska, the Caribbean, Mediterranean/Greek isles, European rivers, the Panama Canal and Europe, South America, Hawaii, the South Pacific and the Baltics/Scandinavia.
Top trends are expected to include further growth in multigenerational/extended family travel, family cruising, growth in the popularity of international travel, increased interest in cultural activities and in exotic, off-the-beaten-track destinations.
CLIA reports that, in 2011, roughly three percent of Americans took a cruise vacation. Overall, approximately 24 percent of Americans have cruised. This suggests that there is a huge untapped market of potential cruisers, even in the U.S., which is the most mature of all cruise markets.