The future of cruises looks bright. A sector that is being boosted by big launches and innovative programs continues to attract an increasing number of customers.
North Americans still go on more cruises than any other nationality, but in a few years’ time, the Chinese, who, as of this week, can now opt for a vacation on the homegrown company HNA Cruises’ liner Henna, may overtake them.
In ten years’ time, the number of individuals taking a cruise has more than doubled, reaching 20.6 million people in 2011 compared to 9.91 million in 2001 and 18.7 million in 2010 (+10%) according to the European Cruise Council (ECC).
North Americans take the most cruises (11.5 million) compared to 6.2 million Europeans in 2011. But Europe is a market in full expansion.
In Europe the British take the most cruises,(1.7 million travelers), followed by Germans (1.38 million) and Italians (923, 000). Between 2009 and 2011, the number of cruise enthusiasts in Europe increased by 23%.
However, according to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the EEC, the Australian and Chinese markets experienced the most growth.
In 2011, the number of Australians who went on a cruise rose by 34% to 623,000 including 35,000 who chose river cruises. For China, while official figures were not available, in its last report, the ECC indicated that “China will dominate the global tourism market in the next two decades,” especially in the field of cruises.
This year, Costa Cruises will launch a second liner in the region thus quadrupling its transport capacity compared to the past two years. In total, the Chinese will spend about a million nights aboard these two liners.
The Caribbean remains the most popular cruise destination in the world, ahead of the Mediterranean, but according to ECC figures, a two-figure growth rate was recorded in demands for cruises in Northern Europe, in the British Isles, and in the Norwegian fjords. Arctic areas have experienced a similar phenomenon.
According to the CLIA, the Arctic, including Iceland, are likely to have seen a 37% increase in the number of people going on cruises in 2012 compared to the previous year. The Norwegian fjords are estimated to have seen a 29% increase.
The British Isles are also popular as destinations. The number of passengers to that area is projected to show an increase of 16%, compared to 6% for the Baltic Sea, a destination that has been popular in the past few years.