According to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), about 23 million people are expected to take a cruise this year, which is a 4% increase over the estimated 22.1 million in 2014.
CLIA research also predicts that 62% will be returning travelers. Studies show that nearly 70% of cruisers view seagoing holidays as a better value than land vacations.
Cruise Lines International Association’s chairman Adam M. Goldstein, cited several intriguing statistics illustrating the industry's growth during the CLIA's State of the Industry held in NYC.
Between 2009 and 2014, the cruise passengers’ number grew from 17.8 to 22.1 million. Satisfaction rates remain high with 84% saying they would recommend cruising to a friend.
Also growing in 2015 is the number of cruise ports of call. Nearly 1,000 new ports are added to itineraries with exotic new locations, especially in fast-growing Asia. 52 ships with capacity for 2.17 mill passengers will provide 1,065 cruises in Asia. 22 new river, ocean and specialty ships are to be launched this year for a total of $4 billion investment.
The movement toward larger ships is of less importance in 2015 and the industry's focus is more on design and services offered on board.
The popularity of small-ship, river and expedition cruising (the so-called specialty cruising), continues to grow. According to the research, niche cruising has grown an estimated 21% annually. Within this segment, the fastest growing with 25% growth from 2009 to 2014, is river cruising.
In 2015, the Caribbean maintains its top position as leading cruise destination in the world, with 35.5% share of the global cruise ship capacity. The Mediterranean follows with a 20% share, and the rest of Europe accounts for 10.6% of bed days. Australia/New Zealand/Pacific and Asia have 6% each. Alaska has a 4.5% share, and South America - 2.9%.
Consumer cruise trends include the need to stay connected, the desire for memorable experiences and 'travel in packs' like affinity groups, multi-generational families, celebration travel and themed cruises. More and more people plan voyages around dining, therefore 'Foodcations' are also trending.
Connectivity makes large leaps due to advanced technology in response to higher expectations and the predominance of mobile devices. But while mobile devices and the Internet have overtaken the way consumers make purchases, the most popular way to book a cruise continue to be travel agents. 70% of cruisers choose a travel agent to plan their seagoing vacations.