Cruise tourism boomed in 2017 and will continue to grow in 2018 according to a new report from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Created in 1975, the association represents over 50 cruise lines companies in all market segments, sea or river cruises. Altogether, CLIA members transported over 25.8 million passengers on 449 cruise ships last year. This represented a growth of 4.5% over 2016. Between 2010 and 2017, the number of passengers grew by 35%.
The US market is still the largest source of the cruise industry, representing 11.5 million in 2016 (last available data). However, this number barely changed since 2014 (11.21 million passengers). The second largest market is now China. Although it only represented 2.1 million travellers in 2016, cruise ships have seen the total number of Chinese treble since 2014 (0.7 million). China overtook Germany, which generated 2 million cruise travellers in 2016. Among the five top markets are also British and Australian travellers, respectively generating 1.9 million and 1.3 million cruise trips.
According to CLIA forecasts, the cruise industry will further grow in 2018 with 27 ships entering in service, helping to generate a new record of 27.2 million cruise travellers.
Looking at the most popular regions for the cruise industry, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean Sea remain cruise liners’ most visited destinations. In available lower berth day (ALBD), Caribbean Islands alone generated 35.4% of all cruises in 2017 while the Mediterranean Sea represented 15.8% of all cruise liners’ capacities. The rest of Europe, particularly cruises on rivers such as the Danube, the Rhine or the Elbe, generate 11.3% of all travellers’ movements. But Asia is gaining in importance. Between 2016 and 2017, Asian destinations market share grew from 9.2% to 10.4% of all cruise ships – 6% being generated by China alone.