Global cruise passengers to rise by 2.3%
This year 13.5 million people will take a cruise worldwide, an increase of 2.3% over 2008, US cruise industry organisation Cruise Lines International Association estimates.
The percentage growth represents a slowdown over the increase between 2007 and 2008.
An estimated 13.2 million travellers cruised last year, up from 12.56 million in 2007, including around 1.5 million from the UK.
North Americans accounted for 10.15 million passengers in 2007 while the number of internationally sourced passengers is growing dramatically year over year.
Through the third quarter of 2008, CLIA lines saw a 30% annual increase in international passengers.
Estimates for the full year suggest that 3.05 million internationally sourced passengers will sail on a CLIA member cruise line, representing 23% of CLIA's global cruisers.
The overall growth in passenger numbers is almost 80% in eight years with CLIA member lines carrying 7.2 million people in 2000.
Since 1980, a period that encompasses a number of economic downturns as well as international crises, the average annualised growth of the North American cruise industry stands at 7.4%, according to the organisation.
Fourteen new ships at a total cost of $4.8 billion are to be introduced this year, ranging in size from 82 to 5,400 passengers.
As these vessels are added in 2009, three ships will leave to be transferred to other companies - Celebrity Galaxy, MSC Rhapsody and NCL's Norwegian Majesty.
CLIA's 2008 Cruise Market Profile suggests that almost 34 million Americans intend to take a cruise within the next three years.
More than 94% of all cruisers rate their cruise experience as satisfying with 44% claiming the highest "Extremely Satisfying" ranking - making a cruise among the very best in meeting and exceeding guest expectations, the organisation said.
Although the global economic crisis may have an impact on consumer intentions, the statistics give the cruise industry confidence that demand for cruising will continue to be strong, according to CLIA president and CEO Terry Dale.
He said: "There is no doubt that 2009 represents an uncertain environment, not only for CLIA members but for all industries and consumers alike.
"However, CLIA members are confident that they will weather the challenges and emerge stronger than ever, as they have before.
"This is an industry that plans ahead and invests in the future, as evidenced by the impressive number of new ships on order through 2012, and one that will contribute positively to the country's economic revival.
"The remarkable diversity and variety of cruises give consumers a unique opportunity to find a vacation that fits their budget even during these economic downturns and we expect that North Americans, Europeans and travellers from all over the world will respond positively."
by Phil Davies
Thursday, January 15, 2009