Number of Global Cruise Passengers Hits 28.5 Million in 2018

cruise ship
Photo: Shutterstock/Olga Gavrilova

The global cruise industry continued to see steady growth in 2018 in line with the overall increase in global tourism, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) said in releasing its latest report on global cruise passenger statistics.

According to CLIA, cruising continues at a paced growth around the world with an almost 7 percent increase from 2017 to 2018, totaling 28.5 million passengers.

While the cruise sector represents 2 percent of the overall global travel industry, this segment is on pace with international tourism worldwide, CLIA notes. According to the latest UNWTO World Tourism Barometer, international tourist arrivals grew 6 percent in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion while cruise travel grew at almost 7 percent during the same timing.

CLIA’s research also shows North American travelers continue to embrace cruising with an annual passenger increase of 9 percent (14.2 million passengers) in 2018. The Caribbean continues to be the hottest cruise market with 11.3 million cruise passengers traveling there in 2018, representing an annual increase of 6 percent. CLIA noted only moderate growth in Asia and China when compared to the rapid increases of the past. In 2018, the region saw 5 percent increase in cruise passengers totaling a still impressive 4.2 million.

Statistics further show that passengers are preferring shorter cruises and more adventurous destinations, especially Alaska. Cruises in the Mediterranean are also gaining in popularity, with an 8 percent increase from 2017 to 2018 totaling more than 4 million cruise passengers.

“It is not surprising that cruise travel is on par with overall international tourism growth. Cruising makes international travel accessible for travelers worldwide and it is apparent in the 2018 CLIA global passenger findings,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO, CLIA. “From a renewed interest in cruises to the Mediterranean to a significant increase in adventure cruising, travelers are embracing cruise travel more than ever before.”