Editorial / 30 Apr 2023

The State of the Cruise Industry 2023

Passengers are back in force. Our Cruise Destination Expert, Jasem Zaiton, has compiled a situation summary to give you the measure of cruise today.

Jasem Zaiton LR

The Pandemic
The suspension of cruising in 2020 had far-reaching effects across the cruise community, covering ports, destinations, service providers, tour operators, travel agents, and hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses.

Furloughs and lay-offs were common because of the pandemic. However, with the resumption of cruise tourism people are getting back to work and reinvigorating local and national economies. Around 60% of cruise-related businesses and organisations are currently hiring.

Total Revenues Reported 2019-22 (US$ billion)
2019: 27.4
2020: 3.36
2021: 13.64
2022: 18.62

Cruise ship harbor

Passenger volumes are expected to surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023 and continue to grow beyond 2026. A Cruise Lines International Association study found that a 2000-passenger cruise call contributed about USD200,000 to the port and local economy.

Passenger health
The cruise sector’s science-backed safety protocols are leading the way across the entire travel and tourism sector. The responsible return of cruise tourism has been underpinned by collaboration with governments and public health experts, and the unshakable demand of passengers for its return.

Cruise line health and safety protocols are among the strongest actions taken by any industry to address and mitigate Covid-19. Cruise ships operating today offer one of the most highly vaccinated, tightly controlled environments for travellers. Even as the pandemic has persisted, cruise industry protocols continue to prove effective to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 and to virtually eliminate severe outcomes.

Vaccines and PCR testing for crews and passengers have been uniformly implemented.

What was lost or changed with Covid?
About 70% of cruise-related businesses and organisations reported layoffs and furloughs as a result of the pandemic.

There was an evolution towards shorter itineraries, a focus on domestic cruising, and more awareness about luxury and expedition cruises.

Green cruising
The sector aims to be Carbon Neutral by 2050. This is leading to initiatives such as advanced recycling protocols, waste-to-energy initiatives, energy efficient ship design, supply chain sustainability programmes, reverse osmosis water filtration systems and adoption of alternative fuels.

The return of cruise trade exhibitions
The theme of Seatrade Global 2023 in Fort Lauderdale was ‘Forward Momentum’. It received strong support and contribution from cruise lines and suppliers. Seatrade Europe will continue that trend in September.

It was important for GAC to come back to Seatrade. Our vision is to become the most admired cruise agent delivering value through our presence in over 50 countries and the strong partnerships we’ve developed with organisations that share the same values and business ethics as we do.

It is worth noting that the Covid period not only changed many rules and practices, but also brought in many new leaders and executives.

Driving GAC’s cruise focus
I have been leading a series of internal workshops with GAC’s Cruise teams to drive better understanding of how cruise fits into the overall tourism & shipping industry and the value proposition we derive from our strengths in shipping and logistics.

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