WASHINGTON, DC — Cruise travel is steadily on the rise with a projected 27.2 million passengers expected to set sail in 2018, according CLIA’s 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, released today and available for download.
In 2017 an estimated 25.8 million passengers cruised compared to a confirmed 24.7 million passengers in 2016, an increase of 20.5% over five years from 2011-2016. To meet ongoing demand, more ships are scheduled to set sail in 2018. CLIA member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 27 new ocean, river and specialty ships this coming year.
What’s more, 8 out of 10 CLIA-certified travel agents said they’re expecting an increase in sales in 2018 over 2017.
“It is without question that the cruise industry continues on a growth trajectory, gaining in consumer interest and creating a positive impact on the global economy,” said CLIA President and CEO, Cindy D’Aoust.
CLIA is also reporting on the global economic impact of the cruise industry in 2016. Cruise industry expenditures generated US$126 billion in total output worldwide, supporting more than one million full-time equivalent employees who earned $41 billion in income, an increase from previous years.
As part of the 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, CLIA has forecasted the top 9 cruise travel trends for the coming year:
1. All Budgets Will Cruise
CLIA’s soon to be released 2018 Cruise Travel Report found that almost all income brackets are cruising. In fact, a third (33%) of the cruisers surveyed who have taken a cruise within the past three years, have a household income less than $80,000. While the data shows cruising does skew a bit more to the affluent consumer than other types of vacations, the report indicates almost all levels of income enjoy cruise vacations.
2. Transformational Cruise Travel
The next evolution of experiential travel sees travellers taking a step further and seeking “transformational” experiences. From cultural immersion and voluntourism to extreme adventures, those returning from a cruise will have shift in perspective and a sense of accomplishment. Some upcoming cruise itineraries include the opportunity to indulge in local cuisine, guided tours through small villages and even visits inside private homes. Thrill-seekers can fill bucket lists with chances to swim with sharks in South Africa, ride a Harley Davidson in Alaska or mingle among penguins in the Arctic, says CLIA.
3. Sustainability at Sea
In the coming year there with be an even greater focus on sustainable tourism. Travellers can look forward participating in sustainable practices both onboard and off from recycling and waste management to popular voluntourism initiatives that focus on creating a positive environmental and social impact at destinations around the globe.
4. Millennials Take to the River
River and small ship cruising continues to gain traction among travelers, specifically the Millennial set. With ever-expanding itineraries and destination experiences that reach far beyond walking and coach tours and endless options for the perfect ‘Instagram moment’, the younger generation is embracing river cruising.
5. Skip-Gen Cruising
Multigenerational cruising is projected to increase in popularity, as forecasted by CLIA’s Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook in April 2017. But there’s a twist: ‘skip-generation’ trips, with grandparents and grandchildren travelling together without their parents, are predicted to be highly popular in 2018 and beyond.
6. Travellers Warm to Chilly Destinations
The coming year is projected to see an increase in popularity of colder climate destinations including the Baltics, Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica. With an array of unique excursion options, from penguin watching to ice fishing, these winter wonder destinations are drawing in both new and repeat cruise travellers, says CLIA.
7. Healthy Doses
Travellers are seeking health and wellness trips more than ever before and the cruise industry is responding with services and experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travellers can participate in onboard health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programs, stress management, and spa services. There are even entire cruise itineraries dedicated to weight management and healthy living including Weight Watchers cruises and menus for a variety of dietary needs from diabetic-friendly to plant-based.
8. Smart Travel Technology
The coming year there will be a rise in traveller-friendly onboard technologies. Cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that provide a personalized and seamless experience while onboard. Ranging from keychains to bracelets to necklaces and more, wearable technology on cruises interacts with sensors on the ship in order to do everything from turning the lights on as a cruiser approaches their cabin to acting as a security agent.
9. Tapping Travel Agents
Travel agents continue to see a steady demand from consumers in planning and executing vacations. Some of the largest factors behind continued popularity of travel agents? Ease of planning, valued expertise and affordability. Travellers can connect with a CLIA-certified cruise specialist travellers via cruising.org/cruise-vacationer/plan-a-cruise/clia-agent-finder.
To download the full 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook findings see cruising.org/about-the-industry/research.