CLIA CEO: Cruise Travel Up 6.7 Percent


At the opening session of Seatrade Cruise Global’s annual conference in Miami Beach on Wednesday, Kelly Craighead, the new president and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), said that 28.5 million people cruised globally in 2018, up 6.7 percent from the previous year

Cruise activity was up 13 percent in Asia, five percent in Alaska and nine percent in North America, Craighead added. Some 30 million people are expected to cruise in 2019.

In addition, more than 18 new ships will set sail this year and the industry’s economic impact is sizable -- $134 billion in spending globally and 1.1 million jobs.

“But our industry is so much more than that, so much more than the numbers,” said Craighead, citing how the industry helps destinations, how new technology opens new and rewarding careers in cruising and how cruising introduces guests to a new culture or helps them makes lifelong friends and memories.

At the event CLIA also released a study with a number of tidbits on the cruise market:

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 than 700,000 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.

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