Passengers on cruise ships were once dubbed “the nearly dead, over-fed, or newlywed.” Now, they are star performers on the international travel scene, breaking records as they sail around seven continents.
The latest global cruise passenger figures from CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) show 28.5 million people took a cruise last year—almost 7% more than in 2017. Some seek adventurous pursuits; some relax away from work stresses; others want to explore distant shores from the comfort of their home-away-from-home aboard a cruise ship.
CLIA, representing the global cruise community, reckons the industry is on track to hit the 30-million passenger mark this year, which is an impressive 60 percent increase in cruise passenger numbers in the past decade.
Why are cruise holidays so popular now?
Few other holidays cover all costs from accommodations and food to non-alcoholic drinks (often alcoholic ones as well) and entertainment in the booking. In many cases, gratuities (tipping) are also included in the cruise fare. Shore excursions and onboard spa treatments are usually extra, and there may be extra cost for a cruise ships’ signature restaurants (invariably created by land-based celebrity chefs) .
Often cruise ships leave from home ports, and these sailings invariably appeal to first-time cruisers as a short cruise is an ideal way for them to test the waters before a longer cruise. Another definite plus of sailing from a local departure port is that passengers avoid time-sapping airport security checks and flights to join a cruise ship at a distant port.
Cruise passengers also love that they unpack once in their cabin and sail from port-to-port while land tours inevitably involve unpacking and repacking at hotels en route.
At present, cruise companies want to ensure these record passenger numbers keep ticking along by building new ships—some carrying a few hundred passengers, others around 5000 passengers—with an array of onboard attractions, and interesting new ports added to an already appealing mix.