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Cruise Line International Association’s annual report on the state of the cruise industry and a survey of 500 member travel agents indicate a strong year for cruise sales.
Citing the ongoing economic recovery, increased consumer interest in cruising and a more global presence among CLIA-member cruise lines, CLIA President and CEO Christine Duffy said the cruise industry is “at an exciting juncture.”
In 2014 and 2015, CLIA-member cruise lines will introduce 24 new ships, and CLIA projects an increase in the number of passengers on its 63 member lines, with totals jumping from 21.3 million guests worldwide in 2013 to 21.7 million guests in 2014.
Passenger Markets Expand
While North America maintained its position as the world’s biggest cruise market in 2013, hosting 55.1 percent of all passengers, there was significant growth in the number of cruise passengers from international markets. The European market showed the most substantial increase, hosting 6.4 million cruise passengers last year.
In the past five years, North American passenger numbers increased 15.1 percent, passenger numbers from the U.K. and Ireland increased 16.4 percent and the number of passengers from Germany grew 80.5 percent. While passenger counts in Australia make up only 3.6 percent of the global cruise market, this number is on an upward trajectory, with a 130.3 percent increase in the number of Australian passengers in 2013. An even more dramatic change came from Scandinavia and Finland. That passenger market grew 184.6 percent in 2013, making up 1.6 percent of the total cruise market share last year. Passenger numbers from France and Brazil also increased substantially.
The Caribbean remains the top destination in terms of ship deployment, accounting for 37.3 percent of all global itineraries, followed by the Mediterranean (18.9 percent), Northern Europe (11.1 percent), Australia/New Zealand (5.9 percent), Alaska (4.5 percent), Asia (4.4 percent) and South America (3.3 percent).
Asia will experience the biggest gains in ship deployment in 2014, increasing its itinerary volume by 31.6 percent. Australia deployment will increase by 32 percent this year, Caribbean deployment will increase by 12 percent and Northern Europe will see growth of 5.2 percent.
Global Fleets Expand
The 2014 global CLIA fleet includes 410 ships in a wide range of sizes and categories, up from 393 ships last year. Member lines (river cruise and seagoing) will introduce 24 new ships in 2014 and 2015, adding a total passenger capacity of 37,546 at a capital investment of approximately $8 billion.
Twelve additional CLIA global and regional ships are planned for 2016 to 2018, representing an additional capacity of 33,192 passengers and an investment estimated at $7.9 billion in ship development.
Sixteen CLIA-affiliated ships launch this year. In addition, several river cruise lines that are not CLIA members — including fast-growing Viking Cruises’ river and seagoing operations and Scenic Cruises’ new Emerald line — will add even more vessels to the global fleet in 2014.
Norwegian Cruise Line launched the 3,969-passenger Norwegian Getaway earlier this year. A number of other CLIA member companies will launch new ships in 2014, including:
In 2015, CLIA members introducing new ships include American Cruise Lines, Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Seabourn and Star Cruise Line.
Positive Travel Agent Outlook
The results of a December 2013 survey of 500 CLIA member agents indicate that travel sellers had a positive year and that they are optimistic about business — cruise sales in particular — in 2014.
More than 60 percent of survey respondents reported that their overall travel sales in 2013 ranged from good (steadily improving over the recent past) to excellent (their best year ever). A massive majority of survey participants — 92 percent — anticipate that business in 2014 will be good or better than it was in 2013. More than 70 percent expect their cruise sales to range from good to excellent this year. Similar or increased sales from new cruisers were reported by 87.7 percent of survey participants.
Agents were also surveyed about their client interest in various types of cruising. High interest in contemporary cruising was reported by 76.7 percent of surveyed agents’ clients, followed by interest in premium cruise lines (67.7 percent) and destination/niche cruise products (66.2 percent). River cruising was also in demand: 61.3 percent of agents surveyed reported that their clients expressed a high degree of interest in river cruising.
Eighty-two percent of member agents surveyed have taken CLIA training and 80 percent said training is extremely important to their business.