27 shocking cruise industry statistics and facts for 2021

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The cruise industry was hit hard by the events of 2020 with a suspension in sailing which continues to affect travel. We’re all hoping that cruising will be able to make a safe return soon.

With that in mind, I’ve highlighted some of the most important cruise statistics for 2021 as well as some incredible cruise ship facts that you probably won’t be aware of.

Top 5 cruise industry statistics to be aware of

  • The cruise industry catered for 30 million passengers in 2019
  • 30 cruise passengers = one job in the industry
  • 15 new cruise ships were built in 2020
  • 28 new cruise ship will be delivered in 2021
  • Half of all new cruise ships will be LNG-powered

2021 cruise industry statistics

1. At its peak, the cruise industry catered for 30 million passengers per year

(CLIA)

In 2019, the global cruise industry welcomed 29.7 million passengers, created jobs for 1.8 million people around the world and contributed over $154 billion to the global economy. 

Cruising was suspended worldwide in mid-March 2020. July 2020 saw a resumption of sailing in parts of Europe, Asia and the South Pacific with around 200 cruises departing in the second half of the year.

2. Thirty cruise passengers equate to one job in the cruise industry

(CLIA)

The first six months of the global pause in cruising between mid-March and September 2020 resulted in a loss of 518,000 cruise industry jobs and $77 billion in global economic activity related to cruising.

With 1.8 million people working in the cruise industry in 2019 and over half a million job losses in the first six months of the shutdown, it’s estimated that at least 25% of cruise industry workers have lost their employment. Of course, cruise industry workers don’t just work on ships, they also work in ports, in head offices, in travel agencies and many other locations.

3. Fifteen new cruise ships were built in 2020

(Cruise Industry News)

Work on building new cruise ships slowed in 2020 and some ships such as Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas which were due to be completed in 2020 were delayed until 2021. Despite the setbacks, 15 brand new cruise ships were delivered in 2020.

The new cruise ships which were delivered in 2020 are shown in the following table…

Cruise LineShipCostPassengers
HurtigrutenFridtjof Nansen$220 million530
RegentSplendor$478 million750
VirginScarlet Lady$710 million2770
PonantLe Bellot$110 million180
CelebrityApex$900 million2900
LindbladNG Endurance$135 million126
SilverseaSilver Origin$75 million100
PonantLe Jacques Cartier$110 million180
PrincessEnchanted Princess$760 million3660
SagaS/Adventure$350 million1000
P&O CruisesIona$950 million5200
SilverseaSilver Moon$370 million596
Mystic/NickoWorld Voyager$80 million200
Costa CruisesFirenze$780 million4232
CarnivalMardi Gras$950 million5200
Scarlet Lady
Scarlet Lady
Photo credit: Virgin Voyages

Suggested read: Scarlet Lady cruise review

4. Twenty-eight new cruise ship will be delivered in 2021

(Cruise Industry News)

In 2021 almost twice as many new cruise ships will be built as were completed in 2020. The new ships include mega-ships such as MSC Virtuosa, MSC Seashore and Odyssey of the Seas.

The new cruise ships set to be delivered in 2021 are shown in the following table…

Cruise LineShipCostPassengers
SunStone2Ocean Explorer$65 million140
Viking OceanViking Venus$400 million930
Sea CloudSpirit$100 million136
Coral ExpeditionsGeographer$75 million120
QuarkUltramarine$150 million200
SunStone3Ocean Victory$65 million186
Tradewind VoyagesGolden Horizon$100 million300
Royal CaribbeanOdyssey$950 million4,200
CrystalEndeavor$390 million200
PonantCommandant Charcot$324 million270
Ritz-CarltonEvrima$225 million298
Holland AmericaRotterdam$520 million2,660
Hapag-LloydH/Spirit$155 million230
Mystic/AtlasWorld Navigator$80 million200
VirginValiant Lady$710 million2,770
EmeraldAzzurra$100 million100
MSC CruisesVirtuosa$900 million4,888
MSC CruisesSeashore$1100 million4,560
SunStone4Sylvia Earle​$65 million130
OceanwideJanssonius$85 million174
PrincessDiscovery Princess$760 million3,660
LindbladNG Resolution$150 million126
SeabournVenture$225 million264
AIDA CruisesAIDAcosma$950 million5,400
Swan HellenicMinerva$150 million152
SilverseaSilver Dawn$380 million596
Viking OceanViking Octantis$275 million378
Costa CruisesToscana$950 million5,224
Odyssey of the Seas
Odyssey of the Seas
Photo credit: Royal Caribbean

Suggested read: Odyssey of the Seas is coming

5. Half of all new cruise ships on order for 2021 and beyond will be powered by LNG rather than diesel

(CLIA)

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) is the cleanest fossil fuel and it represents an excellent alternative to diesel to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and compact climate change. LNG also has virtually zero sulphur emissions. 

69% of diesel-powered ships have been fitted with exhaust gas cleaning systems (EGCS) which remove 98% of sulphur content from exhaust emissions. 96% of non-LNG new ships will have EGCS installed.

Cruise ship statistics

6. An exact replica of the Titanic, called Titanic II will launch in 2022

(Business Insider)

An Australian businessman has undertaken a $500 million project to build an exact replica of the Titanic cruise ship which sank in 1912. The ship will feature modern-day navigation technology and safety systems and, unlike the original, it will have enough lifeboats and life jackets for all of the passengers.

You can learn more about Titanic II in this video…

Titanic II Will Set Sail In 2022 Following The Same Route As The Original | TIME

Suggested read: How big was the Titanic compared to modern cruise ships?

7. The first cruise ships had cows on board to provide fresh milk

(Associated Press, Cunard)

Cunard is one of the oldest cruise lines with a history dating back to 1840. On the earliest cruises, cows were kept on board to supply fresh milk before being slaughtered and eaten on the final day of the voyage.

These days, over 40,000 pints of milk are brought on to a cruise ship for a two-week cruise. To produce that amount of milk in two weeks would require 25 dairy cows.

8. The largest cruise ship in the world by weight is Symphony of the Seas

Royal Caribbean’s Symphony of the Seas is the biggest cruise ship in the world by weight, weighing in at 228,000 gross tons. However, the world’s longest cruise ship is Harmony of the Seas, which is three-and-a-half feet longer at 1,118 feet long.

Both of these ships are longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and each weighs more than 10,000 adult elephants.

9. The most expensive cruise ships are Allure of the Seas and Oasis of the Seas

(Statista)

The most expensive cruise ships ever built are Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. These virtually-identical ships each cost around $1.4 billion when they were built in 2009 and 2010 respectively.

10. The average cruise duration is seven days

(CLIA)

The average cruise duration is seven days. However, seven-day cruises account for only 40% of all cruises. 27% of cruises are 4-6 days in length, 15% are 8-13 days, 11% are up to 3 days and 4% are 14 days. 

Cruise port and destination statistics

11. The Caribbean is the world’s most popular cruise destination

(CLIA)

The most popular cruise destination is the Caribbean. In 2019, 42% of all cruises visited the Caribbean region (including Bahamas and Bermuda). Mediterranean cruises accounted for 16% of all cruises and cruises to Asia and China accounted for 14% of all cruises in the year.

The following table shows the breakdown of cruises by region:

DestinationPassengers in 2019% of all
Caribbean11,982,60042%
Mediterranean4,437,00016%
Asia3,977,40014%
Northern Europe1,707,8006%
Alaska1,215,4004%
Australasia1,177,7004%
South America807,1003%
Baltics593,6002%
Africa & Middle East515,4002%
Canary Islands496,5002%
Transatlantic & World Cruise392,8001%
Canada & New England301,7001%
Hawaii243,1001%
Other490,6002%

12. There are more than 2,000 cruise ports to explore

(CruiseMapper)

CruiseMapper has a database of 2,219 cruise ports. 587 of these are river ports and 1,632 are ocean ports. Most cruise ports can only accommodate ships of a certain size – the smaller ones are only accessible by smaller cruise ships.

13. The world’s busiest cruise port is the Port of Miami

(Miami Dade County)

The world’s busiest cruise port is the Port of Miami which welcomed 5,592,000 passengers in 2019 with 1,220 cruise ships from 22 cruise lines docking at the port. The port also welcomed 1,000 cargo ships carrying over 9 million tons of goods.

Port of Miami
Port of Miami
Photo credit: Gagliardi Photography

14. The average cruise passenger spends $385 in port before boarding a cruise

(CLIA)

Most passengers will arrive in a port city at least one day before they embark on a cruise. During this time, they spend an average of $385 per person on things like accommodation, food and transport. Passengers go on to spend an average of $100 in each port that they visit during the cruise.

Cruise passenger statistics

15. The average cruise passenger is 47 years old

(CLIA)

The average age of a cruise passenger is 47 years old. However, people in their forties make up only 15% of cruise passengers. Most cruises have a mix of all ages, from children to pensioners.

Here is the breakdown of cruisers by age:

  • 12 and under – 9%
  • 13 to 19 – 6%
  • 20 to 29 – 9%
  • 30 to 39 – 11%
  • 40 to 49 – 15%
  • 50 to 59 – 18%
  • 60 to 69 – 19%
  • 70 and over – 14%

World cruises have the oldest passengers, with an average age of 62. This is because there are few, if any, children on board and because it’s mostly retired people who can go away for 3 months at a time.

Caribbean cruises have the youngest passengers, with an average age of 43. This is because they are popular with families as well as under 30s who like to take short party cruises from the US.

16. Half of all cruise passengers reside in North America

(CLIA)

Around 50% of cruise passengers come from North America. 24% come from Western Europe, 15% from Asia and 11% from elsewhere. 

The following table shows the number of cruise passengers in 2018 based on where they live:

Region of residenceNumber of Passengers% of all
North America14,240,00050%
Western Europe6,731,00024%
Asia4,240,00015%
Australasia1,460,0005%
South America883,0003%
Scandinavia225,0001%
Eastern Europe213,0001%
Africa154,0001%
Middle East111,0000%
Caribbean56,0000%
Central America47,0000%

17. Singaporean people like to cruise more than any other nation

(CLIA)

Cruising is very popular in Singapore, with 6.4% of Singaporeans taking a cruise in an average year. Other nationalities which like to cruise are Australians (5.4%), Americans (4%), Hong Kongers (3.3%), Brits (2.8%), Germans (2.7%) and Canadians (2.6%).

The following table shows how many people from each country took a cruise in 2018:

CountryCruise passengers (2018)Population% of people cruising per year
Singapore373,0005,800,0006.4%
Australia1,345,00025,000,0005.4%
United States13,091,000331,000,0004.0%
Hong Kong250,0007,500,0003.3%
UK & Ireland2,009,00072,000,0002.8%
Germany2,233,00083,800,0002.7%
Canada971,00037,700,0002.6%
New Zealand112,0004,800,0002.3%
Norway101,0005,400,0001.9%
Switzerland154,0008,654,6221.8%
Taiwan391,00023,800,0001.6%
Austria136,0009,000,0001.5%
Italy831,00060,400,0001.4%
Spain530,00046,700,0001.1%
France521,00065,200,0000.8%
Netherlands113,00017,100,0000.7%
Malaysia150,00032,300,0000.5%
Argentina187,00045,200,0000.4%
South Africa143,00059,300,0000.2%
Brazil510,000212,500,0000.2%
Japan266,000126,400,0000.2%
Mainland China2,357,0001,395,000,0000.2%
Mexico174,000123,932,0000.1%
India221,0001,380,000,0000.0%

18. Three-quarters of people use a travel agent when booking a cruise

(CLIA)

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) recognises 13,000 travel agencies and 50,000 individual travel agents worldwide. Together, these book 75% of cruise vacations around the world.

Cruise safety statistics

19. The biggest threat to cruise ship safety is fire

(Tyco)

To ensure that any fires that occur on cruise ships can be quickly contained, the average 2,700-passenger cruise ships has 4,000 smoke detectors, 500 fire extinguishers, 5,000 sprinklers, six miles of fire hose and five specially-trained firefighting teams.

20. The risk of violent crime on a cruise ship is 95% lower than on land

(CLIA)

A study of four years of violent crime data by renowned criminologist Dr James Alan Fox showed that the rate of violent crime on a cruise ship is 23.8 per 100,000 people, compared to 508 per 100,000 people in a typical city in the United States.

21. Most cruise ships have jails, hospitals and morgues on board

Cruise ships need to be prepared for every eventuality. Cruise ship jails, hospitals and morgues will be found in the lower decks, away from the majority of passengers. Depending on the size of the cruise ship, the morgue may hold up to three bodies. If more space is needed, food storage freezers could be used in an emergency.

22. Many cruise ships have Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings on board

As cruise ships have an abundance of alcohol on board, people suffering from addictions sometimes worry about being able to practice abstinence on board. For this reason, many cruise ships have Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meetings on a daily basis. You’ll see these on the cruise daily schedule as ‘Friends of Bill W’ or ‘FOB’.

Bill Wilson is the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Friends of Bill meetings on cruise ships may also be attended by members of similar support groups such as Overeaters Anonymous (OA) and Narcotics Anonymous (NA).

Friends of Bill W meeting on a cruise
Friends of Bill W meeting on the bulletin board

Weird cruise facts

23. The Church of Scientology has its own cruise ship

(Scientology)

The Freewinds is a 540-passenger cruise ship belonging to the Church of Scientology. It is staffed by an unpaid crew known as Sea Org and sails out of Curaçao. The church describes the cruise ship as ‘the pinnacle of a deeply spiritual journey’.

Freewinds Scientology cruise ship
Freewinds
Photo credit: Ein Dahmer CC BY-SA

24. Not all cruise ship weddings are legally recognised

(World of Cruising)

Cruise ship weddings may be legally-binding or just symbolic. If you want your cruise ship wedding to count as a legal marriage, you’ll need to choose a cruise ship that was registered in a country where the law allows marriages onboard a cruise ship. 

Options for legally-binding cruise ship weddings include P&O Cruises, Cunard and Princess Cruises (which have ships registered in Bermuda), Celebrity Cruises (on ships registered in Malta) and Royal Caribbean (on ships registered in the Bahamas).

25. The big X on Celebrity Cruises’ ship funnels isn’t the letter X 

Each Celebrity Cruises ship has a big letter X on the funnel. While you may think that this is the letter X, it’s actually the Greek letter Chi and it stands for Chandris which is the group who founded Celebrity Cruises in 1988. 

Celebrity Cruises ship
Photo credit: Celebrity Cruises

26. You can bring your dog or cat on a cruise

(Cunard)

Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 is the only cruise ship that allows passengers to bring their pet dogs and cats on board. This ship has 24 kennels, space to play and it even has lampposts and fire hydrants for dogs to relieve themselves.

Service dogs such as guide dogs for visually impaired people and hearing dogs for the deaf are welcome on most cruise ships. However, certain types of working dogs such as emotional support dogs are not recognised as official service dogs and are not allowed on board. The rules have become stricter since people began to bring untrained pet dogs on board under the guise of being an assistance dog. 

Cat lovers may also be interested in the Meow Meow Cruise, a cat-themed cruise. Unfortunately, no cats are permitted onboard.

27. You can see an abandoned cruise ship wreck on Google Maps

The MS World Discoverer is a cruise ship that struck a rock off in the ocean off the Solomon Islands in April 2000. All passengers were transported to safety, but the ship remains there to this day, lying tipped to one side.

You can view the World Discoverer cruise ship on Google Maps here.

The bottom line

The cruise industry is a huge contributor to the global economy. Following a year like no other, the cruise industry has been quick to engage experts and government authorities to strengthen its already robust public health measures. Cruising resumed gradually in 2020 and the return will continue into 2021 and beyond. 

With the pent-up demand for travel, I’m sure that the cruise industry will reach new heights in the years to come.

Sources

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