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State of the Cruise Industry Looking Up

posted by Casey McKenna-Monroe, Managing Editor
March 19, 2014

“Up” was the buzzword from the State of the Industry Panel at Cruise Shipping Miami on March 11. After several years of slow growth and industry accidents, Christine Duffy, President of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), couldn’t express the theme enough when presenting the industry data and current trends during CLIA’s 2014 State of the Industry presentation.Cruise Shipping Miami Logo

“Cruising is the fastest growing segment of the travel industry,” Duffy said. “We are predicting 21.7 million passengers this year, double a dozen years ago.”

The growth is incredible in some cruise markets, like Germany, which increased its market share by 80%. Even better? Australia saw 130% growth in the cruise market. Even the USA, which continues to dominate the cruise industry with nearly 52% of all cruise passengers saw 15% growth over five years.

That growth is spurred by the 29 new cruise ships that will join the CLIA fleet in 2013-2014. Including river cruising, one of the market’s fastest growing sectors, the global cruise fleet has 410 ships. Another 20 ships will be sailing in 2015-2018, for an additional 52,000 available beds.

To fill those new ships and continue sustained growth in the cruise industry, Duffy discussed several trends to attract first-time cruisers in the 95-million strong Millennial generation. Expect cruise lines to improve connectivity at sea, as shown with several the new iConcierge app available on Norwegian Cruise Lines and Wave Phones from Disney Cruise Lines.

Cruising is expected to attract multi-generational families interested in more active vacations. Duffy advised that the cruise industry should look to offer cruise experiences with the whole family. At the same there, there is a resurgence in the luxury cruise market with more all-inclusive packages. The luxury market continues to drive industry growth in all markets as experience travelers look to blossoming markets like Asia.

“Travel agents agree on the future of cruising,” Duffy said. Over half of CLIA travel agents reported that 2013 sales ranged from good to excellent and 70% expect that trend to continue into 2014.

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