CLIA projects 25.3m global cruisers in 2017

CLIA encouraged by short- and long-term outlooks for cruising. Here, ships at PortMiami CLIA encouraged by short- and long-term outlooks for cruising. Here, ships at PortMiami

Cruise Lines International Association estimates 25.3m people will cruise globally in 2017. That's a 4.5% increase from the estimated 24.2m passengers in 2016 and further growth from the 23.2m in 2015.

CLIA counts 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2017 for a total investment of more than $6.8bn in new vessels. From 2017 to 2026, the association expects the industry to introduce a total of 97 new ships, an estimate $53bn investment. CLIA included non-member lines' newbuilds in that count.

The association mingles river, coastal and ocean ships in its talley, but its passenger estimates are just for ocean cruises.

(In comparison, the Seatrade Cruise News orderbook currently tallies 69 firmly contracted ocean-going ships—just over 196,000 berths—through 2024, a total value of nearly $47bn. The Seatrade count doesn't include options, nor river or coastal vessels.)

CLIA president and ceo Cindy D'Aoust said the industry is responding to global demand, adding: 'We are highly encouraged by both the short-term and long-term outlook.'

Among CLIA's eight trends for the coming year, the most important is its forecast of strong consumer intention to cruise. In a study, when asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years nearly half (48%) of non-cruisers expressed interest in an ocean cruise. Eighty-five percent of cruisers also expressed interest in cruising again.

CLIA also said younger generations, including millennials and Generation X, 'will embrace cruise travel,' ranking it 'better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals or camping, according to a study.

Travel agent use will increase, the association predicts, citing the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker that showed consumer use of agents ballooned nearly 80% from 2015 to 2016.

CLIA also said river cruising will continue to grow. The association's members field 184 river vessels with 13 new river ships on order for 2017. (Viking River Cruises, a giant, is not a CLIA member line.)

More private islands on cruise itineraries are also forecast by CLIA, along with more drive-to homeports, more expedition cruising and continued marketing of celebrity chefs/dining as a cruise draw.

Besides American Express, sources for these forecasts include a JD Power 2016 CLIA Consumer Study, CLIA's Travel Agent Cruise Industry Outlook Report, the fall 2016 CLIA Cruise Sentiment Survey and the Adventure Travel Trade Association.

Posted 15 December 2016

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Anne Kalosh

US editor of Seatrade Cruise Review and Seatrade Cruise News

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