Cruise Industry Outlook 2015 – Full Speed Ahead

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The cruise industry outlook for 2015 shows nothing but smooth sailing ahead. Cruising is a perennial favorite for home-based agents looking to specialize, so if you haven’t chosen a specialty yet, listen up.

CLIA has released some eye-opening stats on the industry, along with a list of 7 key themes, if you will, that they feel will characterize cruising as we sail through 2015.

cruise industry outlook 2015

Cruise Industry Outlook 2015 from CLIA

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These are some staggering numbers. 482,000 beds. $4 billion worth of new ships. 23 million passengers. And the 20,000 new beds show that the industry doesn’t feel it has reached its peak.

And remember, these numbers represent only the “CLIA fleet,” that is cruise lines that are members of CLIA. CLIA represents 90 percent of global cruise capacity, so the actual numbers are somewhat higher.

As to the “Consumer Cruise Trends” in the illustration, these are rather speculative, although presumably based on some sort of data collected by CLIA. In other words, they have more to do with marketing than metrics and I’d suggest taking them with the proverbial grain of salt.

And “Foodcations?” Seriously?

Seven Takes on the Seven Seas

Here’s how CLIA breaks down its take on trends for 2015:

  1. Cruises remain immensely popular. That 23 million passenger figure represents a 4 percent increase over 2014. According to CLIA, 62 percent of cruise passengers are repeaters. This came as a bit of a shock to me because for years the figure I’d always hear was that 85 percent of cruisers cruise again. Why the drop off? My best guess is that the curiosity about cruising generated by the advent of the megaships and improved marketing by the cruise industry have attracted more first timers. Time will tell how many of them become repeat customers. Still, this figure suggests that travel agents should be more proactive about reminding their current cruise clients that the time has come to cruise again, rather than relying on them to call you.
  2. Size doesn’t matter. Not so long ago, the big news was those 6,300-passenger behemoths. But in the years since, river cruising has really taken off (if you’ll excuse the term), showing that ships of all sizes can attract eager customers. CLIA points out that the 22 ships debuting this year (ocean-going, river, and specialty) reflect a diversity of styles and amenities rather than an emphasis on sheer size. The takeaway for travel agents: Bone up on the selling points of smaller vessels.
  3. Specialty cruising is heating up. The term “specialty cruise” is applied to a variety of experiences, from ultra-luxury cruise ships, to river ships, to small-capacity luxury yachts, and so forth. Attention must be paid, because this segment has grown 21 percent annually since 2009. How many retirement accounts have done that well?
  4. The Caribbean rocks. Not surprisingly, Caribbean cruising, so convenient for most Americans, remains that big winner as far as bed days are concerned, accounting for 35.5 percent of the market. But look at Europe. When you combine the Med with the rest of Europe, it adds up to 31.1% of the market. So Europe is not the afterthought it was not so long ago, thanks in no small part to the boom in river cruising.
  5. More choices in ports of call. CLIA is proud of the fact that its member cruise lines now serve over 1,000 ports worldwide. Asia especially has seen growth in this area, but there are new stops in familiar cruising grounds like the Caribbean as well.
  6. Travel agents are “key.” Well of course we knew that, but it’s nice of CLIA to say so. CLIA points out that 70 percent of cruises are booked through travel agents, perhaps an admission that their efforts to attract direct bookings haven’t been as successful as they had hoped. /snark
  7. The cruise lines are catering to passengers. Well haven’t they always? CLIA points out things like stem to stern wi-fi, “multigenerational appeal,” and, yes, “foodcations.”

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Cruise Industry Outlook 2015 – Full Speed Ahead was last modified: October 21st, 2015 by Kelly Monaghan