Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization, is releasing the latest global cruise passenger statistics. Playing a significant role in international tourism, cruising continues at a paced growth around the world with an almost 7 percent increase from 2017 to 2018, totaling 28.5 million passengers. Research also shows North American travelers continue to embrace cruising with an annual passenger increase of 9 percent (14.2 million passengers) in 2018.
While the cruise sector represents 2 percent of the overall global travel industry, this segment is on pace with international tourism worldwide. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew 6 percent in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion while cruise travel grew at almost 7 percent during the same timing.
“It is not surprising that cruise travel is on par with overall international tourism growth. Cruising makes international travel accessible for travelers worldwide and it is apparent in the 2018 CLIA global passenger findings,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO, CLIA. “From a renewed interest in cruises to the Mediterranean to a significant increase in adventure cruising, travelers are embracing cruise travel more than ever before.”
Cruise Passenger Insights Around the Globe.
Mediterranean Moves – Cruises in the Mediterranean are moving up in popularity with an impressive 8 percent increase from 2017 to 2018 totaling more than 4 million cruise passengers.
Shorter Cruises – Passengers are preferring shorter cruise durations. Seven-day cruise itineraries are up 9 percent while three-day and under cruises are also up 10 percent in 2018.
Caribbean Rebounds – Cruisers love the Caribbean and the latest insight reveal travel to the islands is still in full swing. An impressive 11.3 million cruise passengers traveled to the Caribbean in 2018 an annual increase of 6 percent.
Destination Alaska – As adventure travel continues to thrive, so do adventurous cruise destinations. Alaska has experienced double-digit growth with a year-over-year 17 percent increase in passengers in 2017 and another 13 percent increase in 2018 accounting for more than one million cruisers travelling to this destination.
Moderate Growth in Asia – When compared to the rapid increases of the past, 2018 saw moderate cruise passenger growth throughout Asia and China with a 5 percent increase in cruise passengers from the region totaling a still impressive 4.2 million.
Cruise Passenger Insights in North America
Cruise Travel on the Rise - North American passenger numbers reached 14.2 million in 2018, showing an increase of 9 percent from 2017.
Eyes on the Mediterranean – Globally, Mediterranean cruises grew substantially in popularity last year, totaling more than 4 million cruise passengers worldwide. Of those, more than700,000 passengers came from North America up 29 percent from the previous year.
Craving the Caribbean – Cruise travelers from North America dominate cruise travel to the easily accessible Caribbean. Continued growth in cruising to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda, is up 7 percent to 9.8 million passengers in 2018.
Alaskan Adventures Preferred – Aligning with global insights, North American cruisers made up the significant portion of cruise passengers traveling to Alaska in 2018 with 906,019 cruise passengers increasing to 14 percent from 2017.
Additional Destinations - Other growing North American destinations include the Hawaii & North Atlantic Coast region, Mexico, California, and Pacific which increased 4 percent in 2018, totaling 1.3 million cruise passengers.
For the full findings on global cruise passenger statistics, please visit HERE. For an overview of work being done by CLIA and its cruise lines: https://cruising.org/sustainability.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.