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The State of Cruising in 2020 A ReCap of CLIAs Most Recent Industry Report

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April 07, 2020
Cruise | Technology
Fran Worrall

Editor’s Note: The Spring 2020 issue was published prior to the outbreak of COVID-19. While some of the information is dated we published the articles in their entirety as the industry was showing great progress prior to the outbreak. We can learn from these articles and examples as we prepare for future disruptions.

The cruise industry is booming. Popular on a global scale, 32 million people from around the world are expected to sail this year, up from 30 million in 2019. Moreover, cruising increasingly appeals to all ages and demographic groups, with more than 70 percent of Millennials having a more positive attitude about cruising as compared to two years ago and more singles cruising than ever before. “Without a doubt, the cruise industry has cemented its role as a mainstream vacation choice,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), the world’s largest cruise industry trade organization.

To meet ongoing demand, CLIA’s member lines are scheduled to debut 19 new ocean vessels in the coming year, with 278 ships projected to be in operation by the association's lines at the end of 2020. The industry is also responding to increased growth and demand by accelerating its eff orts to be a leader in environmental sustainability and responsible tourism, committing billions of dollars to energy-effi cient ships and new technologies that minimize environmental impact and embracing collaborations with local governments and communities. “With growth comes the responsibility to ensure that cruising remains a force for good and the best way to experience the world,” Craighead said. Following is an overview of CLIA’s 2020 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, which off ers insights on the impact of cruising and looks at trends across the industry.


A top priority for the industry is environmental sustainability. CLIA estimates that more than $20 billion will be invested this year in energy effi ciency technologies and cleaner fuels, with the goal of a 40 percent reduction in the rate of carbon emissions by 2030 (compared to 2008).

Some of the most significant technologies and practices being adopted include the following:

• Liquified Natural Gas (LNG): Benefits include virtually no sulfur emissions as well as significant reductions in particulate emissions, nitrogen oxide emissions and greenhouse gas emissions. Approximately 44 percent of new build capacity will rely on LNG fuel for primary propulsion.

• Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS): Benefi ts include reductions in sulfur oxide levels, total particulate matter and nitrogen oxides. Currently, 68 percent of global capacity utilizes EGCS, while 75 percent of non-LNG new-builds will have EGCS.

• Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems: These systems, which exceed international requirements, are often superior to shoreside treatment plants. All new builds will have these systems in place.

• Shoreside Power: Ships increasingly have the ability to turn off engines and receive shoreside electricity while in port. More than 85 percent of new build capacity will have this capability or will be configured to add it.

Other areas of exploration include battery propulsion, advanced recycling, reduced plastic use, solar energy, fuel cell technology and more efficient lighting.


Another industry priority is destination stewardship, with cruise lines exploring new ways to manage the flow of visitors and implement responsible tourism. This is being carried out through partnerships with local governments in key destinations, staggered ship arrivals and departures, diversification of excursions and the use of shore power. What’s more, travelers increasingly spend time in and near cruise ports in connection with their seagoing holidays. In fact, 65 percent of passengers spend extra days at embarkation or debarkation ports. Many cruise lines are also offering bite-sized journeys over three-tofi ve-day periods, allowing consumers with limited time or income to experience a cruise vacation.


Finally, the report reveals the massive economic impact of cruising, which sustains 1,177,000 jobs and equals more than $50 billion in wages and salaries and $150 billion in total output worldwide. Cruise lines also contribute to local economies, with passengers spending an average of $376 in port cities before boarding and $101 in each transit destination. As for the geographic areas that account for the most cruisers, North America comes in fi rst, with more than 14 million passengers, followed by Western Europe and Asia. 


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