As the title of Peisley's 11th comprehensive research study suggests, we could be witnessing the end of the modern cruise industry’s opening (entrepreneurial, expansionist and creative) phase and the beginning of an era when every decision is tested against what is now the most crucial of all criteria: return on investment.
It will be a more analytics-based business from now on, writes Peisley, with the focus equally on minimising costs and maximising revenue. This is also most evident in deployment and itinerary-planning decision-making with everything taken into account from port charges, sailing distances, and shore tour revenue to local economic situations to ensure that a ship is operating where it can earn the most return at any given time.
As a result, there is more volatility in capacity levels from region to region, year to year and season to season.
Whilst these changes will not change the way the four major companies dominate the sector there are signs that those in the third and fourth place – Norwegian Cruise Lines Holding and MSC Cruises will be taking closer order. At the same time Royal Caribbean International is about to take a long lead over Carnival Cruise Line as the largest brand while MSC is on course to become the third largest.
30 million passengers is still in the industry’s sights and still on target to be reached within ten years, calculates Peisley. After 2024, he states the level of future growth depends on just how fast the Chinese and the rest of the Asian market emerges. With new brands likely to emerge in China, in particular, 40m global cruise passengers by 2030 appears genuinely feasible.
Based on firmed new ships on order at July 1, 2014 the combined capacity share of the top two groups Carnival/Royal Caribbean’s 65% will be slightly reduced.
The 280 page End of the Beginning for Cruising – a worldwide analysis with 20 year (2014-2034) forecasts is out now and can be purchased online at http://www.seatrade-global.com/cruise_report/index.html