CLIA: Travel Agents Key to Attract New Cruisers

New ships, global destinations, new itineraries and innovation in shipboard facilities and activities have driven consistent growth in cruise passengers, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports in its 2012 industry update, released this week.

“Observations and expectations of travel agents, who sell nearly three-quarters of all cruises, will be key in helping to attract new cruisers,” CLIA said in its analysis.

CLIA’s industry update provides an overview of the North American cruise industry in 2012, including 2011 year-end passenger projection, fleet and capacity growth for the period 2012 to 2015.

One result shows that CLIA’s 26 member lines carried an estimated 16.3 million passengers in 2011, a 10 percent increase over 2010.

The update offers geographic deployment figures and trends and other industry and shipboard insights as well as current consumer trends as reported by CLIA’s travel agency members.

CLIA reports annual average passenger growth from 1980-2011 at 7.5 percent and average occupancies above 100 percent with 2010 CLIA fleet occupancy of 103.2 percent.

Between 1980 and 2012 the CLIA fleet will have carried estimated 225 million guests, including 188 million passengers sourced from North America and 37 million passengers from other parts of the world.

Passenger trends, CLIA notes, include: total guests and the North American sourced share show steady growth: 2000: 7.214 million (91%); 2002: 8.648 million (86%); 2004: 10.46 million (84.4%); 2006: 12.01 million (83.9%) 2008: 13.01 million (77.6%) and in 2010: 14.82 million (72.8%).

 CLIA reports 16,365,000 total guests, 89 percent from the U.S and Canada, with31 percent sourced internationally with the average length of a cruise at seven plus days.  2000 to 2011, CLIA reports 143 new ships were introduced  -13 introduced in 2011 alone (12 new, one refurbished) with 14,886 new beds.

CLIA reports 14 ships to be introduced in 2012 (13 new, one re-introduced with a total of 17, 984 new beds. Looking forward, CLIA reports 25 ships will join CLIA’s  fleet through 2015 – an investment of $10 billion.  Six new ships, with 8,109 beds will join the CLIA fleet in 2013.

Consumer trends cited by CLIA include roughly 3 percent of Americans taking a cruise vacation in 2011: Approximately 24 percent of Americans have ever cruised and that cruising is #1 in consumer interest with perceived value remaining a strong selling point.

CLIA says top destinations for 2012 with passenger growth include: Alaska, Caribbean, Mediterranean/Greek Islands, European rivers, Panama Canal, Europe, South America, Hawaii, South Pacific and Baltics/Scandinavia.

Expected sources of passenger growth includes: seniors, friends/multiple families, extended/multigenerational family, families, young travelers, singles and social/corporate groups.

“The history of the North American cruise industry has been one of expansion to all parts of the world as cruise lines have sought to attract loyal as well as first-time cruisers by developing new geographic markets and offering new cruise experiences. In the last five years, the 'globalization' of cruising has been one of the dominant themes in the industry, with particularly strong growth in Europe,” CLIA says.

Among the trends in river cruises, CLIA notes strong growth and innovation, including a 10 percent annual passenger growth over the last five years, with some lines enjoying even greater increases. Also noteworthy is rapid growth in new ships in last five years, with most lines doubling the size of fleets or more.

Expansion in destinations/itineraries cited by CLIA include; American Cruise Lines: from nine to more than 30; Avalon Waterways: from 25 to 45 (Europe, Asia, SE Asia, Egypt, Galapagos) and Uniworld Boutique River Cruises: 32 itineraries in Europe; one in Russia; three in Egypt; six in China; Southeast Asia in January 2012, and Italy in 2013.

Industry-wide shipboard innovations cited by CLIA include private balconies, in-room balcony breakfasts, chef’s tables, choice of dining venues, local dining options, sustainable cuisine, all-suite ships and new programs for active travelers and wine and food lovers.

Culinary innovations are also cited by CLIA, including increased choice, creative culinary partnerships, health and sustainability and one-of-a-kind experiences.

One example cited by CLIA is Carnival Cruise Lines investing $500 million in the first phase of a “Fun Ship 2.0” program offering new dining and entertainment choices on 14 ships, including several new branded restaurants.

For more CLIA research visit

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