Source: adapted from Cruise Market Watch.
Global Cruise Passengers Carried, 1990-2014
The size of the global cruise markets doubles about every 10 years,
which represents an annual growth rate of about 7%. This growth so far
has been relatively unaffected by recessions for a number of reasons. First, the
size of the global cruise industry is relatively small compared with
the tourism industry, which
accounted for 1 billion arrivals in 2011. For instance, it was estimated
that about 37 million people visited Las Vegas in 2010, while the global
cruise industry carried about 18 million passengers the same year.
However, this observation must be nuanced by the fact that most cruises
typically involve 3 to 5 ports of call with the corresponding number of
visits per passengers. So, 18 million passengers are accounting for
several visits each during a cruise. Second, the industry remains fundamentally derived by the supply of
ships and itineraries. The strategy is thus to fill the ships, which are
a fixed supply, and when the demand is weaker, discounts are offered to
keep the ships full. Third, the customer base of the cruise industry
tends to be of a higher income level than the customer base of the
tourism industry at large. This market segment is usually less impacted
by economic downturns. Further, the growth in income levels in many
countries, including developing economies, has expanded the customer
base susceptible to take a cruise. In light of this context, there is little evidence about the
full extent of the market potential of the cruise industry and when a saturation point
could be reached.