Some 28.5 million people took to the seas and rivers last year. The Asia-Pacific region continues to see growth and cruise passenger numbers are set to reach new highs in 2019.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) revealed a 6.7% increase in 2018 – as a result, the organisation representing cruise lines has revised its forecast for this year to an astonishing 30 million passengers.
Kelly Craighead, the new president and CEO of CLIA shares that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 20 per cent of cruisers globally, experiencing a 3.9% growth.
So if that market share continues in 2019, that would mean Asia would account for some six million cruisers.
The Asia-Pacific region received an impressive 5.7 million cruisers last year – where this week Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean were both offering their biggest ever number of cabins for the 2020/21 season.
The new international figures were revealed at the State of Global Cruise Industry Keynote address at the Seatrade Cruise Global’s annual conference held in Miami, Florida last week.
Delegates also heard of the hard work being done to manage environmental and overtourism concerns, including talks with port authorities about staggering ship calls and a range of new measures to make cruise ships cruise more efficiently.
In addition, the numbers show that shorter cruises are becoming increasingly popular.
Cruisers are choosing to sail on 7-day itineraries on average, with three and seven-day itineraries growing in popularity by 10 and nine per cent respectively.
For destinations, Alaska remains the top emerging place to visit. The area saw a 13 per cent increase in cruise passenger arrivals in 2018, accounting for more than a million passengers.
It is the second year in a row where double-digit growth is recorded in Alaska. A 17 per cent increase in passengers was recorded in 2017.
The Mediterranean saw more than four million cruise passengers (up 8 per cent), the Caribbean received 11.3 million cruise passengers (up 6 per cent) and Asia had 4.2 million cruise passengers (up 5 per cent).
So who will be jumping on board in 2019? It is revealed that the new average age of cruisers is 47 years old – the youngest ever.
Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation, noted at the conference that cruising interest is strong among Millennials in search of adventure but the Baby Boomers remains the largest demographic with time and money to cruise.
Moving forward, the number of retirees is expected to double in the next 10 years, he added.