With effective industry-wide protocols in place, the cruise industry can certainly say the restart of cruising has been exceedingly successful. Passenger levels are up, cruise lines have been reporting record booking numbers, and new generations of cruisers are ever more eager to go on a voyage.
Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) shared the evidence during the Seatrade Cruise Global 2022 Conference at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
However, with increasing passenger numbers also comes the ever-present challenges the cruise industry has with reducing and eliminating emissions and pollution. This is an issue the industry is tackling head-on.
Cruise Industry Will Soon Hit Pre-Pandemic Levels
In June of 2021, when the first cruise ship started operations from the United States, no one would have expected how complex the service return would be for the cruise industry.
When the last vessels become operational this summer, there will have been a year of uphill battles to arrive at the point the cruise industry is now.
And yet, 7.5 million guests have sailed onboard cruise ships in nearly 90 different markets. With a science-back program of protocols, such as testing and vaccination mandates.
While maintaining proven health records that show cruising is safe, the cruise community has been able to inspire guests to consider a cruise again.
“As the industry resumes operations, passenger volume is expected to recover and surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023, with passenger volumes projected to recover 12% above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2026,” said Kelly Craighead, President and CEO, CLIA.
“Cruising is accessible, responsible, and experiential – making it the best way to see the world for people of all ages and interests. With the support of an incredibly resilient community, the future of the cruise industry is bright.”
And it’s not just returning guests that want to cruise. Millennials are finding their way to cruise ships, with 87% indicating they will take a cruise in the next few years. Of the Generation X’ers interviewed, 85% said they would take a cruise in the next two years.
Meanwhile, 69% of the respondents of a CLIA survey who had never cruised before said they are open to cruising.
More Guests, More Pollution?
One of the significant drawbacks of increasing the number of people cruising worldwide is the increase this creates in pollution and emissions. An issue that certainly has caught the attention of CLIA and its member cruise companies.
CLIA announced that ocean-going members will be pursuing a net-zero carbon target for its ships by 2050. By 2035 all ships calling at ports where shoreside electricity (SSE) is available will be equipped to use SSE. This allows ships to switch off their engines and eliminate carbon emissions while berthed.
Pierfrancesco Vago, Chairman, CLIA: “The cruise industry has an extraordinary ability to innovate, and we want to channel our collective expertise and commitment to help find solutions as an active partner in the effort to decarbonize shipping.”
“We continue to set ambitious carbon reduction goals as an industry, and cruise lines are showing the way by partnering with fuel suppliers, shipyards, technology manufacturers and academic institutions to develop new lower carbon fuel sources. We are investing in our future.”
In recent weeks, several cruise line announced their way of working toward the future. Carnival Cruise Line already has several LNG-powered cruise ships, while the company also installed more than 200 food digesters. Just onboard Mardi Gras, 14 digesters can process about 142,000 pounds of food waste each week.
MSC Cruises will be working towards getting its entire fleet ready for shore-side energy this year, and Royal Caribbean is implementing LNG onboard the future biggest cruise ship in the world, Utopia of the Seas.