That 3.23m capacity figure for 2016 was a 55% increase from the year before.
The 2017 edition of the 'Asia Cruise Trends' report by Cruise Lines International Association, with research and analysis by CHART Management Consultants, says further growth will be driven by more ships in Asia this year: 66, up from 60 ships in 2015 and from 43 in 2013, a 53% four-year increase.
Five of these are mega-ships (more than 3,500-passenger capacity), 13 are large (2,000 to 3,500 passengers), 26 are mid-size, and 17 are seasonal, small upscale ships. In addition, the expedition niche is deploying five ships for limited seasons.
Thirty-five cruise brands are active in Asia, and 18 of their 66 ships are operating year-round, while another 18 operate for five or more months.
According to the 'Cruise Trends' report, operating days in Asia total 10,196 this year, up 25% from the 8,171 operating days in 2016 and a 137% increase from the 4,307 in 2013. More operating days provide the 2017 capacity for those 4.24m passengers, a figure that has nearly tripled from the 1.51m in 2013.
Six of the 35 cruise brands each operate more than 100 sailings, 68% of the industry total in 2017. Ten lines offer 10 to 99 sailings, 24% of the total, and 10 further lines offer between nine and 19 sailings, a 6% share. The remaining eight brands field eight or fewer sailings, a 1.5% share.
Of the 2,086 sailings scheduled for Asian waters in 2017, 1,992 cruises, or 95.4%, will remain within Asia, while an additional 94 voyages are scheduled to pass through the region.
Short cruises continue to dominate. Cruises of four to six nights account for the highest share this year, 52%. Two- to three-night getaways comprise 31% of all the region's cruises.
Turning to source markets, 3.1m Asians cruised last year, a 55% jump over 2015, of which 2.1m passengers were from mainland China, a market that almost doubled as it grew by 99% last year and at a four-year compound annual growth rate of 76%, according to 'Asia Cruise Trends 2017.'
No surprise that this makes China the world's fastest growing major cruise source market. And, as earlier reported, China moved up to the No. 2 source market globally in 2016, trailing only the US and ahead of Germany and the UK as source markets.
Other major source markets were Taiwan (236,800 passengers, up 10.3% on 2015), Japan (215,400, up 11.8%), Singapore (196,900, up 18.5%), India (120,00) and Hong Kong (110,700).
Asian travelers predominantly cruise within the region—92% on Asia cruise-only and 2.6% on Asia fly-cruises in 2016. The weighted average cruise duration for all Asians in 2016 was 4.9 nights. The Mediterranean was the largest of their international fly-cruise destinations (55%), followed by Alaska (18%) and the Caribbean (15%).
The average age of all Asian cruisers last year was 44.6 years.
CLIA's full 'Asia Cruise Trends 2017' report is available here.