Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Cruise Industry Predicts 2015 Growth

By Mark Edward Nero

Strong growth for the cruise industry in 2015 is being projected by the Cruise Lines International Association’s annual State of the Cruise Industry Report, which was released Feb. 9.

A record 23 million passengers are expected to sail this year, and 61 percent of North American Cruise Lines International Association-certified travel agents report an increase in 2015 travel bookings over this time last year.

Also, member cruise lines are scheduled to debut 22 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2015 for a total investment of more than $4 billion, according to CLIA.

“It’s an exciting time for the cruise industry and cruise passengers,” CLIA Chairman Adam Goldstein, who’s also president/COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said. “This year will prove to be another step forward for the entire industry as our members continue to strive to make cruising the best overall vacation experience.”

Among the other outlooks for 2015 that were identified by the cruise industry association:

• Cruise travelers intend to continue to set sail and are highly satisfied with prior cruise experiences. An estimated 62 percent are return cruisers and 69 percent 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 four-percent increase over 2014 estimates of 22.1 million.

• 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 percent annually from 2009 to 2014 estimates.

• The Caribbean is expected to see more than a third of the global deployment capacity market share in 2015. However, the Mediterranean continues to grow as a destination, as well as other regions including Asia and Australia. In 2015, 52 ships are expected to provide 1,065 Asian cruises with capacity for 2.17 million passengers.

• Although 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, 70 percent of cruise travelers use a travel agent to plan and book cruise vacations.