View from ship in Juneau AK
A projected 1.3 million cruise visitors will travel to Alaska this season, some 57% of Alaska’s summer tourists. Most ships stop in Juneau.

Playing a significant role in international tourism, cruising continues at a paced growth around the world with an almost 7% increase from 2017 to 2018, totaling 28.5 million passengers, according to statistics released by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). Research also shows North American travelers continue to embrace cruising with an annual passenger increase of 9% (14.2 million passengers) in 2018.

While the cruise sector represents 2% 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 6% in 2018, totaling 1.4 billion while cruise travel grew at almost 7% during the same timing.

Cruise passenger insights around the globe

Destination Alaska – As adventure travel continues to thrive, so do adventurous cruise destinations. Alaska has experienced double-digit growth, with a year-over-year 17% increase in passengers in 2017 and another 13% increase in 2018, accounting for more than one million cruisers travelling to this destination.

Mediterranean Moves – Cruises in the Mediterranean are moving up in popularity, with an impressive 8% increase from 2017 to 2018, totaling more than 4 million cruise passengers.

Shorter Cruises – Passengers are preferring shorter cruise durations. Seven-day cruise itineraries are up 9% while three-day and under cruises are also up 10% in 2018.

Caribbean Rebounds – Cruisers love the Caribbean, and the latest insights reveal travel to the islands is still in full swing. An impressive 11.3 million cruise passengers traveled to the Caribbean in 2018, an annual increase of 6%.      

Moderate Growth in Asia – When compared to the rapid increases of the past, 2018 saw moderate cruise passenger growth throughout Asia and China, with a 5% increase in cruise passengers from the region, totaling a still impressive 4.2 million.

Cruise passenger insights in North America

Alaskan Adventures Preferred – Aligning with global insights, North American cruisers made up the significant portion of cruise passengers traveling to Alaska in 2018, with 906,019 cruise passengers, increasing to 14% from 2017.

Cruise Travel on the Rise – North American passenger numbers reached 14.2 million in 2018, showing an increase of 9% from 2017.

Eyes on the Mediterranean – Globally, Mediterranean cruises grew substantially in popularity last year, totaling more than 4 million cruise passengers worldwide. Of those, more than 700,000 passengers came from North America, up 29% from the previous year.

Craving the Caribbean – 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 7% to 9.8 million passengers in 2018.                   

Additional Destinations – Other growing North American destinations include the Hawaii and North Atlantic Coast region, Mexico, California and Pacific, which increased 4% in 2018, totaling 1.3 million cruise passengers.

View the full findings on global cruise passenger statistics.

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