THE NUMBER of people taking a cruise globally returned to and exceeded 2019 levels last year, the first largely unaffected by covid.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) this week released its 2024 State of the Cruise Industry report, including figures for 2023 passenger volume, which reached 31.7 million— surpassing 2019 by 7%.

The report appears to show the 2023 Australasian market actually fell by 1% compared to 2019, but lists the 2019 total passenger volume as 1.35 million with 2023 at 1.4 million.  However, Australia rated as the world’s fifth-highest source market, after the US, Germany, UK and China. And Australia/New Zealand/the Pacific the sixth-highest destination market, after the Caribbean/Bahamas/Bermuda, the Mediterranean, Asia + China, the rest of Europe, and Alaska, showing growth of 8.4%.

The CLIA report also shows continued demand for cruise holidays, noting intent to cruise at 82%. The forecast for cruise capacity shows an increase of 10% from 2024 through 2028, as cruise lines make ongoing, concrete progress in pursuit of net- zero emissions by 2050.

Other highlights include the forecast for cruise capacity through 2028 and a summary of the 2024 – 2028 cruise orderbook, as well as the latest cruise trends, which include:

  • The number of new-to-cruise is increasing – 27% of cruisers over the past two years are new-to-cruise, an increase of 12% over the past year.
  • Cruises are a top choice for multi-generational travel – with more than 30% of families traveling by cruise with at least two generations and 28% of cruise travellers traveling with three to five generations.
  • Expedition and exploration are the fastest-growing sectors of cruise tourism, with a 71% increase in passengers traveling on expedition itineraries from 2019 to 2023.
  • Accessible tour excursions are on the rise—with 45% of cruise passengers booking an accessible tour for their most recent cruise.
  • 73% of cruise travellers say that travel advisors have a meaningful influence on their decision to cruise.

The report can be accessed here.