35.7 Million Passengers Expected to Cruise in 2024, Unfazed by Higher Prices

The Cruise Line International Association’s (CLIA) latest annual report and new workforce skills report confirm the industry’s steady recovery since the pandemic.

Two cruise ships docked at a port in the British Virgin Islands with passengers walking along the pier.
Valiant Lady and Norwegian Sky at Tortola

This recovery was recorded across several metrics—like passenger volume, intent to cruise, cruise capacity, and economic impact—all of which reflected growth. 

Most notably, the passenger volume in 2023 rose 7% compared to 2019. Year-on-year estimates are likewise encouraging.

Costa Diadema

Compared to last year’s 31.7 million cruise passengers, 2024 is expected to have 35.7 million, representing a 13% increase.

Meanwhile, intent to cruise is 6% higher, while cruise capacity is projected to increase 10% from 2024 to 2028.

CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead recognized the sector’s overall strength, saying, “Cruise continues to be one of the fastest-growing and most resilient sectors of tourism—rebounding faster than international tourist arrivals—and a strong contributor to local and national economies.”

Since cruise travel accounts for only 2% of the overall travel and tourism sector, she added that there is room to keep expanding.

Cruising’s Global Economic Impact

Aerial view of Ovation of the Seas
Aerial view of Ovation of the Seas (Photo courtesy of Royal Caribbean)

In 2022, the industry injected $138 billion into the international economy, generating 1.2 million jobs (4% more than in 2019) and paying $43 billion in salaries.

Cruise Industry Trends

carnival horizon carnival cruise
(Photo courtesy of Carnival)

The number of new-to-cruise passengers has increased by 27% over the last two years. Cruises have become more popular among millennials and families.

Over 30% of families with at least two generations traveled together, while 28% sailed with 3 to 5 generations.

From 2019 to 2023, an additional 71% of passengers embarked on expedition-type itineraries, making expedition and exploration the industry’s fastest-growing sector.

viking octantis welland canal canada
Viking Octantis in Canada’s Welland Canal (Photo courtesy of Viking)

The report also shared that accessible tour excursions and travel advisors remain key to the cruise industry’s continued success.

Up to 45% of cruise passengers booked an accessible tour on their latest cruise, while 73% said that travel advisors significantly influenced their decision to join one.

These insights were highlighted in the 2024 State of the Cruise Industry report that was released on Tuesday morning.

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