JOEL Katz, managing director CLIA Australasia
It’s an honour to be writing this as the new managing director of CLIA Australasia. 2017 has started extremely well for the Australasian cruise market. The month is set to be one of the region’s busiest ever cruise months, with 28 different ships making an extraordinary 46 calls to Sydney alone during February. The wave of activity will continue into March, with 43 calls to the harbour city in just 31 days.
CLIA recently released the 2017 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, detailing the increased pace of cruise travel interest and significant investment in the industry.
An estimated 25.3 million passengers are expected to sail in 2017, a strong surge from 15.8 million just 10 years’ prior. More ships will set sail in 2017 as well. Cruise lines are scheduled to debut 26 new ocean, river and speciality ships in 2017 for a total investment of more than $6.8 billion in new vessels. From 2017-2026 the industry is expected to introduce a total of 97 new cruise ships totalling an estimated investment of US$53 billion through 2026.
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 — Younger generations – including Millennials and Generation X – will embrace cruise travel more than ever before.
Travel Agent Use Increases — Travel agents will continue to be the matchmakers between travellers and cruise lines in 2017. Today, there are more than 25,000 CLIA-member travel agents globally compared to 12,000 in 2010. 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 travellers a unique and intimate travel experience. Due to demand, CLIA members currently deploy 184 river cruise ships with 13 new river cruise ships on order for 2017.
More Private Islands — As more cruise lines introduce private island destinations, travellers are responding and booking these itineraries.
New Cruisers taking to the Sea — Interest in ocean cruising is projected to remain strong in 2017.
Drivable Port Locations in Favour — The cruise industry offers a variety of small and large market port location options. Seven out of ten non-cruisers believe the greatest benefit is cost savings and three quarters of cruisers like the convenience of driving to a cruise ship.
Lure of Celeb Chefs — Cruise travellers are embracing specialty dining and will continue to consider cruise dining experiences based upon celebrity chefs. This year, several cruise lines feature new restaurants and dishes created by famous chefs.
Demand for Expedition Cruises — Adventure travel is growing at a record pace and expedition cruises operators are seeing the impact and expanding.
The cruise industry is responsive to global demand. From technological advancements and deployment of new ships to new ports and destinations around the world, the industry continues to respond to the desires of today’s travellers.