This week, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released its 2022 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report. In the report, we see that the hard work from the various cruise lines, cruise organizations, crew members, and trust from guests is paying off in more ways than one.
After two years of significant losses, layoffs, furloughs, selling ships, ships in layup, and measures to bring cruise ships back to operation, the numbers show an industry on the way back financially, over 6 million guests sailed onboard a cruise ship since July 2020, but also a sector that has taken innovation and environmental thinking to heart.
Cruise Industry Takes Huge Steps Forward
The cruise industry has been forced to take innovation to a whole new level in the past two years. What has come out is an industry that is leaner, innovative, safe, and environmentally responsible.
Not only is the threat of COVID-19 still a genuine problem, but it also brings into view the way the cruise industry has tackled issues in a way that no other industry has done. Cruise ships are safer, with extensive testing and health measures. But there are also side effects such as smoother, streamlined embarkations and much more extensive use of technology in ensuring health and safety.
By 2050 the industry will need to be carbon neutral. Still, environmental sustainability is becoming a much more valued challenge, as is the continued dialogue that cruise industry representatives need to have with local communities.
“CLIA ocean-going cruise lines have welcomed more than six million guests onboard since resuming operations in July 2020. While our focus on health and safety remains absolute, our industry is also leading the way in environmental sustainability and destination stewardship,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA.
“Coastal and maritime tourism is an important economic driver, and we continue to work in partnership with cruise destinations so that communities thrive from responsible tourism. Our members are also investing in new technologies and new ships and pursuing the goal of net carbon neutral cruising by 2050.”
The Cruise Industry By The Numbers
The report from CLIA certainly provides an interesting view of where the cruise industry stands today. In 2020, when ships started sailing in Europe, more than 5.8 million guests have sailed onboard a cruise ship. Yet it also draws a picture of how badly the pandemic affected the industry.
That 5.8 million is down from 29.7 million embarkations in 2019. In 2020 the cruise industry supported 576,000 jobs; while that may seem significant, it is down from 1.17 million in 2019. The total economic contribution of the cruise industry was 154 billion dollars in 2019; in 2020, this number dropped nearly 100 billion dollars to 63.4 billion.
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Currently, the number of operational ships accounts for a little less than 80% of the total fleet associated with CLIA. By July of 2022, this number will be nearly 100% of ships. So far, only 86 countries worldwide are accepting cruise ships. Especially Asia, which accounted for 13% of the total cruise ship passengers in 2019, remains a problem area with cruise ships only regularly sailing from Malaysia and Singapore.
The importance of cruise lines to local economies remains an essential factor. Cruise ships create jobs. So much so that CLIA estimates that every 24 cruisers create a full-time job. Cruise ship guests spend an average of $750 in the ports they visit over a 7-day cruise.
Laura McDonnel, a shop owner from Juneau, Alaska: “Cruise tourism is a sustainable piece of our economy that has longevity for generations like mine. 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.”
Cruise Industry Reduces Environmental Impact
One area where cruise ships still receive a lot of criticism is how cruise ships affect the environment. Here too, innovation has made some significant steps. The pursuit of alternative fuels has brought the use of LNG to cruise ships. In 2022 five cruise ships operating on LNG will be released. By 2027 this number will grow to 26 vessels sailing powered by LNG.
Ships will be less likely to be emitting black smoke while in port. By 2027 174 cruise ships will be powered by shore power while in port. Two hundred thirty-one cruise ships will be fitted with advanced wastewater systems that ensure the water coming from cruise ships is cleaner than the Ocean water.
Then there are other systems such as waste to energy, more efficient ship designs, recycling protocols that are far advanced from those found shoreside, sustainable supply chain initiatives, and clean drinkable water from reverse osmosis systems, reducing the use of plastics.
In many ways, the pandemic has been devastating for millions of people. Yet, good things have evolved from it. Cleaner, safer, healthier, and more technologically advanced cruise ships ensure guests can take a cruise knowing that their fun vacation is not harming the environment and will be safe.