28.5 Million People Took a Cruise in 2018

file photo
file photo: the atrium on Carnival Horizon

Published Apr 9, 2019 7:48 PM by The Maritime Executive

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) has released the latest global cruise passenger statistics indicating that cruising continues at a paced growth around the world with an almost seven percent increase from 2017 to 2018, totaling 28.5 million passengers. CLIA notes that the average age for a cruise passenger is 47 years.

Research also shows North American travelers continue to embrace cruising with an annual passenger increase of nine percent (14.2 million passengers) in 2018.

While the cruise sector represents two percent of the overall global travel industry, this segment is on pace with international tourism worldwide. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew six percent in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion while cruise travel grew at almost seven percent during the same time.

Cruise Passenger Insights Around the Globe

Cruises in the Mediterranean are moving up in popularity with an eight percent increase from 2017 to 2018 totaling more than four million cruise passengers.

Passengers are preferring cruises of shorter duration. Seven-day cruise itineraries are up nine percent while three-day and under cruises are also up 10 percent in 2018.

11.3 million cruise passengers traveled to the Caribbean in 2018, an annual increase of six percent.

Alaska has experienced double-digit growth with a year-over-year 17 percent increase in passengers in 2017 and another 13 percent increase in 2018 accounting for more than one million cruisers traveling to this destination.

When compared to the rapid increases of the past, 2018 saw moderate cruise passenger growth throughout Asia and China with a five percent increase in cruise passengers from the region totaling a still impressive 4.2 million.  

Cruise Passenger Insights in North America

Globally, Mediterranean cruises grew substantially in popularity last year, totaling more than four million cruise passengers worldwide. Of those, more than 700,000 passengers came from North America, up 29 percent from the previous year.

Cruise travelers from North America dominate cruise travel to the easily accessible Caribbean. Continued growth in cruising to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda, is up seven percent to 9.8 million passengers in 2018.

North American cruisers made up the significant portion of cruise passengers traveling to Alaska in 2018 with 906,019 cruise passengers increasing to 14 percent from 2017.

Other growing North American destinations include the Hawaii and North Atlantic Coast region, Mexico, California and Pacific which increased four percent in 2018, totaling 1.3 million cruise passengers.