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27.2m people projected to cruise in 2018

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Cruise Lines International Association forecasts 27.2m people around the world will take seagoing vacations in 2018. That's a 5.4% increase from the estimated 25.8m in 2017, and up from the 24.7m in 2016.

CLIA member lines are expected to introduce 27 ocean, river and specialty ships next year. (Further new ships from non-member lines like Viking are coming, too.)

The association's newly released 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook also tallies the global economic impact of cruising in 2016 as $126bn, supporting more than 1m full-time equivalent employees who earned $41bn in income, an increase from previous years.

In addition, CLIA pinpointed nine trends for the coming year, including the broadening of the cruise market. While more affluent consumers are more likely to cruise than take other types of vacations, the association's research also showed one-third of the consumers who've cruised in the past three years have a household income under $80,000.

Another trend, transformational experiences, indicates people are seeking a shift in perspective and a sense of accomplishment through cultural immersion, voluntourism and extreme adventures, all possible on a cruise.

A greater focus on sustainability is expected as travelers participate in sustainable practices on board and ashore.

Further, CLIA forecasts millennials will take to the rivers, while another trend, 'skip-gen' cruising, a twist on multigenerational cruising—which has been booming for years—sees grandparents and grandchildren traveling together without the kids' parents.

In another trend, demand for cruises to colder climes like Antarctica, Canada and northern Europe in winter is expected to continue.

The focus on health and wellness keeps rising, too, with cruises offering wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programs, stress management, weight management and spa services.

Technology incorporated into the seagoing vacations is going to increase, too, whether incorporating wearable devices or using smartphone applications for an expanding array of services.

Plus, CLIA found its travel agent members, no surprise, expect to see continued demand from consumers seeking help in planning and executing their vacations.

The full 2018 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook is here.

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