An Outlook on the State of the Cruise Industry for 2022

Deck of a cruise ship. (photo via LeeYiuTung / iStock / Getty Images Plus)
Theresa Norton
by Theresa Norton
Last updated: 4:54 PM ET, Thu January 27, 2022

Cruise Industry on the Rebound

Cruise Lines International Association, which represents the global cruise community, on Jan. 27 released its "2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook" report.

Overall, the report shows that the industry is continuing to resume responsible cruising with proven protocols and demonstrating the value of cruise tourism to communities around the world. Further, despite these challenges, the industry continues to advance environmental efforts toward a goal of carbon neutrality.

"The 2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report provides an opportunity to reflect on how far our industry has come as CLIA ocean-going cruise lines have welcomed more than six million guests onboard since resuming operations in July 2020," said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA. "While our focus on health and safety remains absolute, our industry is also leading the way in environmental sustainability and destination stewardship."

Fleet of the Future

By 2027, the CLIA oceangoing cruise line member fleet will reflect significant advancements in the pursuit of a cleaner, more efficient future. By then, CLIA-member lines will operate 27 ships powered by liquid natural gas (LNG), said to be one of the cleanest marine fuels.

And, 247 ships - or 81 percent of global capacity - will be fitted with advanced wastewater treatment systems, while 174 ships will be able to connect to shoreside power, letting them shut down their engines while docked.

"Building state-of-the-art green infrastructure at cruise terminals, such as shoreside electricity capability, is exactly the kind of investment that we all want to see more of," said U.K. Maritime Minister Robert Courts.

Economic Impact

There's no denying the cruise industry shutdown due to the pandemic severely hurt numerous segments of the travel industry, even beyond the cruise industry itself. When compared to 2019, the 2020 economic data illustrates the pandemic's far-reaching effects and underscores the importance of cruise tourism to economies around the world.

For example, there were 5.8 million passenger embarkations in 2020, a fall of 81 percent. The number of cruise-supported jobs fell by 51 percent to 576,000 and the total economic contribution plummeted by 59 percent to $64.4 billion.

Resumption Progress

The cruise industry is leading the world with its extensive health and safety protocols, developed in concert with some of the world's leading medical experts. Those protocols helped the industry resume service, sometimes in places such as The Bahamas, Norway or from Malta. As of January 2022, more than 75 percent of CLIA's ocean-going capacity has returned to service. And nearly 100 percent are projected to be back in operation by August 2022.

Cruise fans remain loyal to seagoing vacations. CLIA's study found that 80 percent of those who have cruised before say they will cruise again - the same percentage as before the pandemic.

Value of Cruise Tourists

Cruise tourists and the money they spend create jobs and opportunities for local communities around the world. Every set of 24 cruisers creates one full-time equivalent job, CLIA found, and cruisers spend an average of $750 per passenger in port cities over the course of a typical seven-day cruise.

"Cruise tourism is a sustainable piece of our economy that has longevity for generations like mine," said Laura McDonnell, a shop owner in Juneau, Alaska. "Seeing that first ship back in Juneau after a whole year without any cruises felt like such a step forward and I just thought, wow, maybe we're going to be okay."

Cruising can also lead to additional resort or tour travel because six in 10 people who have taken a cruise say they have returned to a destination first visited via cruise ship.

Destination Stewardship

Continued collaboration with local communities that cruise ships visit remains a critical focus including in places such as Dubrovnik, Croatia; the Greek destinations of Corfu and Heraklion; and the city of Palma in the Balearic Islands.

In the walled city of Dubrovnik, for example, the cruise industry is working closely with local officials to find ways to manage tourism flows.

"The partnership between the cruise industry and Dubrovnik helps us to ensure this great city remains a special place for residents to live and for the world to visit," said Dubrovnik Mayor Mato Frankovic.

Class of 2022

CLIA's ocean-going member lines are projected to debut 16 new ships in 2022, including five LNG-powered vessels and nine expedition ships. The class of 2022 will be 100 percent equipped with Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems. All told, in 2022, 272 ships are projected to be in operation with an average passenger capacity of 2,126.

North America Loves Cruising

Of the Top 5 cruise markets from 2018 to 2020, North America remains in the No. 1 spot, comprising 51 percent of the world's source market. It was followed by Western Europe (21 percent), Asia (12 percent), and Australasia and South America (five percent).

Top Cruise Destinations

As you might've guessed, the No. 1 cruise destination in the world is the Caribbean, The Bahamas and Bermuda, with 44 percent of passenger volume from 2018 to 2020. Second was Asia and China with 13 percent, Central and Western Mediterranean with eight percent and Australasia and Panama Canal/South America at five percent.

Looking Forward With Optimism

"More than any year in the history of the State of the Cruise Industry Report, the 2022 report embodies the cruise industry's forward resolve," wrote CLIA President and CEO Kelly Craighead. "Our members are looking ahead, leading the way in responsible tourism and maritime practices, investing in new ships, and pursuing the goal of net carbon neutral cruising by 2050.

"Beyond the facts and figures lies a story about an industry that is best described as a community - from the passengers and crewmembers to ports and destinations, travel agents, suppliers, shop owners, and the millions of others. Together, we are setting the course to drive positive, sustainable change for the communities we serve. I look forward to seeing this story continue to unfold in the months and years ahead."

To view the full "2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook" report, click here.

The Cruise Lines International Association issues its annual report that looks at progress made during the pandemic and a brighter future ahead.

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