Crystal Serenity in Seward AK
Adventure travel is one of this year’s big trends. Here the Crystal Serenity prepares to leave Seward on the first stage of it inaugural 32-day Northwest Passage cruise from Alaska to New York City.

Cruise travel will experience another growth year, with an estimated 25.3 million passengers expected to sail in 2017, a strong surge from 15.8 million just 10 years prior (2007), according to the 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

More ships will set sail this year as cruise lines debut 26 new ocean, river and specialty ships, which represents an investment of more than $6.8 billion. From 2017-2026 the industry is expected to introduce 97 new cruise ships, totaling an estimated investment of $53 billion.

“The cruise industry is responding to global demand and we are highly encouraged by both the short-term and long-term outlook,” said Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO, CLIA.  “From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to desires of today’s travelers resulting in steady growth and strong economic impact around the world.”

Cruise industry expenditures generated $117 billion in total output worldwide, supporting 956,597 full-time equivalent employees who earned $38 billion in income in 2015.

As part of its outlook, CLIA has forecasted the top eight cruise travel trends that will have the most impact on the cruise industry this year.

  • New generation takes to the water– A recent study found that younger generations—including Millennials and Generation X — will embrace cruise travel more than ever before, rating it as better than land-based vacations, all-inclusive resorts, tours, vacation house rentals or camping.
  • Travel agent use increases– Consumer use of a travel agent increased nearly 80 percent from 2015 to 2016. CLIA also found that cruisers report high levels of satisfaction with their travel experience when assisted by an agent.
  • River cruise demand increases – River cruises offer travelers a unique and intimate travel experience. CLIA cruise line members currently deploy 184 river cruise shipswith 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017, an increase of about 7 percent.
  • More private islands on cruise itineraries – As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travelers are responding and booking these itineraries. In 2017, cruise lines offer ports on a total of seven private islands.
  • New cruisers will take to the sea – Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017. When asked what kind of vacations might be of interest in the next three years, nearly half (48 percent) of non-cruisers expressed interest in taking an ocean cruise.
  • Drivable port locations in favor Three quarters (74 percent) of cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
  • Lure of celeb chefs – Cruise travelers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs.
  • Demand for expedition cruises –Adventure travel is growing at a record pace and CLIA is reporting that cruise expeditions are seeing the impact. In fact, itineraries for Antarctica regularly sell out. 

For more information on CLIA’s 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, click here

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