CLIA opens enrollment for 2018 travel agency, agent membership

Cruise lines to draw record 23m passengers in 2015, launch 22 new ships

WASHINGTON, DC — A record 23 million passengers are expected to sail this year, with 61% of North American CLIA-certified travel agents reporting an increase in 2015 travel bookings over this time last year.

And 70% of these travellers will book their cruise through a travel agent.

These are two of the main findings as Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its annual State of the Cruise Industry Report.

Cruise lines are trying to attract travellers with nearly 1,000 ports of call in new, exotic locations, especially in the fast-growing Asian market. CLIA also revealed that member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2015 for a total investment of more than US$4 billion.

The cruise industry this year will have major economic impact globally. In 2013, the global economic output of the cruise industry was more than $117 billion; the industry supported nearly 900,000 jobs and contributed to $38 billion in wages.

“From new ports around the globe to the investment by CLIA’s member cruise lines in new, innovative ships, it’s an exciting time for the cruise industry and cruise passengers,” said Adam M. Goldstein, CLIA Chairman and President/COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.

Using several research studies, CLIA identified a range of 2015 cruise industry outlooks:

  • Travellers Will Continue to Set Sail – Cruise travellers intend to continue to set sail and are highly satisfied with prior cruise experiences. In fact, 62% are return cruisers and 69% ranked cruising as a better value than a land-based vacation. Overall, CLIA member ocean passenger volume is projected to increase to 23 million in 2015, a 4% increase over 2014 estimates of 22.1 million.
  • Travel Agents Are Key to Cruise Travel – While the Internet and mobile devices have overtaken how consumers make purchases, travel agents continue to be the most popular and best way to book a cruise. In fact, seven out of 10 cruise travellers (70 percent) use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.
  • Size Doesn’t Matter – Five years ago, the largest cruise ship in the world was introduced with a 6,300-passenger capacity. With 22 new ocean, river and specialty cruise ships scheduled for debut this year, the focus is less on size and more on unique design and amenities.
  • Specialty Cruises Continue to Thrive – CLIA’s specialty segments, which includes sophisticated ships, luxury yachts, elegant ocean liners and the newest river cruises, continue to experience double digit passenger growth. In fact, specialty cruises grew by 21% annually from 2009 to 2014 estimates.
  • Caribbean Continues to Be Queen – The Caribbean remains queen for the cruise industry with more than a third of the global deployment capacity market share in 2015. At the same time, cruise travellers are expanding horizons. The Mediterranean continues to grow as a destination, as well as other regions including Asia and Australia. In 2015, 52 ships will provide 1,065 Asian cruises with capacity for 2.17 million passengers.
  • The New Places We Will Go – The cruise industry is seeing an increase in passengers looking for global experiences. As a result, cruising has made the world more accessible than ever. CLIA’s member cruise lines offer nearly 1,000 ports around the globe, including many areas that fall within a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Travel Agent Pulse Survey was conducted among 482 North American CLIA-certified travel agents via an online survey between Nov. 7-23, 2014. The 2014 North American Cruise Market Profile Survey was conducted in partnership with market research firm TNS and cruise industry consultancy Bob Sharak & Associates. Drawn from a panel of more than 1 million households, an online survey was conducted between Aug. 12-26, 2014, which collected cruise and travel opinion data among 1,600 U.S. and Canadian residents. This report presents data on travellers who are 25 or older with an annual household income of more than $40,000.