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2017: Top Cruise Industry Trends

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By MarEx 2016-12-16 16:20:47

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has announced its top cruise travel trends for 2017, highlighting a new generation of cruises and the increasingly important role that travel agents are playing.

An increase in cruise travel is expected to continue throughout 2017, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to sail in 2017, a strong surge from 15.8 million just 10 years prior (2007). More ships will set sail in 2017 as well. CLIA reports that cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships in 2017 for a total investment of more than $6.8 billion in new vessels. From 2017-2026 the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships totaling an estimated investment of $53 billion through 2026.

Cruise industry expenditures generated $117 billion in total output worldwide, supporting 956,597 full-time equivalent employees who earned $38 billion in income in 2015.

CLIA’s Top Cruise Travel Trends

1. New Generation Takes to the Water

A recent study found that younger generations, including Millennials and Generation X, will embrace cruise travel more than ever before, rating it as better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals or camping.

2. Travel Agent Use Increases

According to the American Express Spending & Saving Tracker, consumer use of a travel agent increased nearly eighty percent from 2015 to 2016. Supporting this, CLIA is forecasting that travel agents will continue to be the matchmakers between travelers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010. CLIA also found that cruisers report high levels of satisfaction with their travel experience when assisted by an agent.

3. River Cruise Demand Increases

River cruises offer travelers a unique and intimate travel experience. Due to demand, CLIA cruise line Members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about seven percent.

4. More Private Islands on Cruise Itineraries

As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travellers are responding and booking these itineraries. In 2017, cruise lines offer ports on a total of seven private islands.

5. New Cruisers Will Take to the Sea

Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years nearly half (48 percent) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise while a striking 85 percent of cruisers also expressed interest.

6. Drivable Port Locations in Favor

The cruise industry offers a variety of small and large market port location options across the United States and internationally. Citing the advantages of a myriad of locations seven out of ten (69 percent) non-cruisers believe the greatest benefit is cost savings and three quarters (74 percent) of cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.

7. Lure of Celeb Chefs

Cruise travelers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs. This year, several cruise lines feature restaurants and dishes created by famous chefs including Guy Fieri, Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa and Geoffrey Zakarian. 

8. Demand for Expedition Cruises

According to the Adventure Travel Trade Association, adventure travel is growing at a record pace, and CLIA is reporting that cruise expeditions are seeing the impact. In fact, itineraries for Antarctica regularly sell out.

The CLIA’s 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook is available here.