Cruise Industry Reports Record Passenger Volumes

April 12, 2024

The global cruise industry reported record passenger volumes in 2023 as the sector continues its rebound following the lows of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cruise ships carried 31.7 million passengers in 2023, up 7% from previous highs recorded in 2019, according to latest figures published by the trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

© Mariakray / Adobe Stock
© Mariakray / Adobe Stock

Most increases were in the United States—which remains, by far, the world's largest cruise market—with an incremental increase of 2.7 million passengers, 19% higher than 2019.

CLIA's 2024 State of the Cruise Industry report revealed expedition and exploration as the fastest-growing sectors of cruise tourism, with a 71% increase in passengers traveling on expedition itineraries from 2019 to 2023.

In 2022, the cruise industry generated $138 billion in total economic impact globally, supporting 1.2 million jobs worldwide and $43 billion in wages. CLIA said it expects results for 2023 (to be published later this year) will show an even greater impact greater given the 50% increase in the number of passengers sailing in 2023 compared to 2022.

The report also showed 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. The orderbook for new cruise ships currently includes 56 new ships valued at $38 billion combined.

The report also highlighted a growing focus on more sustainable engine technologies. There are 32 pilot projects testing future fuels; four ships sailing today using renewable biofuel as an energy source—with an additional four new-build ships being configured for renewable biofuels; including five ships slated to use green methanol and two slated to use green hydrogen. Some 15% of ships entering service in the next five years are being built with battery storage and/or fuel cells to allow for hybrid power generation.

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