Over 32M passengers were expected to go cruising in 2020.
Only a handful of 400 cruise ships ready to hit the water could take passengers onboard due to COVID-19.
The result? Over $60B in losses.
So if you’d like to learn more about the cruise industry, you’ve come to the right place.
In this data-driven roundup, we’ve compiled the most relevant and up-to-date stats and facts on the topic to help you catch the essence.
Let’s dive right in:
Top 10 Cruise Industry Stats and Facts to Know in 2023
- The cruise industry made $18B in revenue in 2022.
- The total number of cruise ship passengers stood at 13M+ as of 2021.
- The cruise industry is expected to reach $25.1B in revenue by the end of 2023.
- The cruise industry supports over 1M jobs.
- A cruise costs an average of $214 per passenger daily.
- The world’s fleet of cruise ships totals 430.
- US nationals made up the majority (43%) of all cruise passengers in 2021.
- US nationals made up 43% of all cruise passengers in 2021.
- The cruise industry seeks to reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030.
- A cruise ship emits more greenhouse gasses daily than 13M cars.
General Cruise Industry Statistics & Facts
- The global revenue of cruises is set to reach $30B by 2024.
|Year||Cruise Industry Revenue|
- Only 22% of cruise tickets are purchased online. Instead, 78% of the sales come from offline channels (e.g., ticket offices).
- Wonder of the Seas, owned by Royal Caribbean Group., is the world’s largest cruise ship.
- 1.7M passengers cruised to the Caribbean region in 2021.
|Leading Ocean Cruise Destinations Worldwide||Share of Passengers|
|Central and Western Mediterranean||17%|
|Asia and China||12%|
|North American West Coast/Mexico/California/Pacific Coast||4%|
- The US, Canada, and Mexico make up half of all cruise passengers.
- Crime rates on cruise ships are 95% lower than on land.
Wonder of the Seas
- Wonder of the Seas is the largest cruise ship in the world. It’s 1,188 feet long and 209 feet wide (362 x 64m).
- Wonder of the Seas can take up to 7K passengers and 2.3K crew members onboard.
- The Wonder of the Seas ship was ordered in 2016 and completed in 2022, with a construction cost of $1.3B.
- Wonder of the Seas has a Central Park (the first ever park at sea) with over 20K natural plants.
- The Wonder of the Seas ship has four thrusters with 7.5K horsepower each, which help it reach the cruising speed of 22 knots (25 mph).
- Wonder of the Seas has 24 bars and dining facilities.
- There are eight specially designed neighborhoods on the Wonder of the Seas ship.
|Wonder of the Seas’ Neighborhoods||Description|
|Boardwalk||Outdoor area with dining and entertainment, stylized to resemble old seaside piers|
|Pools and Sports Zone||A place with pools, slides, and other water attractions|
|Central Park||A park with natural plants and trees, filled with cafes|
|Royal Promenade||An area stylized to look like a city’s downtown, with bars and dining spots|
|Entertainment Place||An entertainment-dedicated area where performances take place|
|Youth Zone||A section filled with attractions for children and teens|
|Vitality Spa and Fitness||A place equipped with saunas, steam rooms, massage tables, and other spa features|
|Suite Class||A restricted-to-suite-class-only guests area with a private pool, lounge, and bars|
Working Onboard a Cruise Ship
- The cruise industry provided 1.7M jobs in 2019.
- It takes 24 passengers to support one full-time job on a cruise ship.
- The cruise industry has average employee turnover rates: 25–35%.
- A cruise ship may require over 2K crew members.
- Cruise ships have a strict, military-like chain of command: officers > staff > crew members.
- 70% of cruise ship crew work in the hotel division.
- Most cruise companies (70%) hire employees via foreign agencies.
- A typical cruise ship employment form is a 6-month-long contract.
- Cruise ship crew are on call around the clock.
- An average cruise ship member in the US makes $29K annually.
|Cruise Ship Jobs||Average Annual Salary|
|Environmental health and safety officer||98K|
|Food service worker||32K|
Cruise Ships: A General Overview
- 72 new ships were manufactured in 2021.
- The average cost of building a cruise ship is $600M.
- There were 65 ocean cruise lines as of 2022.
- The three leading cruise companies made 85% of the global revenue in 2021.
|Leading Cruise Companies||Market Share|
|Royal Caribbean Group||25%|
|Norwegian Cruise Line||15%|
- Only 11% of cruise ships can accommodate more than 4K passengers.
- Most cruise ships (32%) can take 2–3K tourists onboard.
- 371 out of 430 cruise ships operated in 2022.
- Here’s a look at the highest-rated cruise lines:
|Size (In Passengers)||Cruise Lines||Satisfaction Score|
|Mega ships (>4K passengers)||Royal Caribbean International||80%|
|Large ships (2.5–4K passengers)||Norwegian Cruise Line||85%|
|Medium ships (0.5–2.5K) passengers)||Viking Ocean Cruises||88%|
|Small ships (<500 passengers)||Ponant||88%|
|River ships||Viking River Cruises||95%|
- The cruise ship’s passenger capacity is projected to reach over 38M in 2027.
- The average age of a cruise ship is 14.
- The world’s longest cruise ship (~1,188 ft or 362m) is just 6.5 ft (2m) longer than the fifth longest ship (853 ft or 260m).
- Royal Caribbean has all five longest cruise ships in its fleet.
- The most expensive cruise ships are Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas. The former cost 1.5B to build, and the latter’s price tag was 1.4B.
- Here’s a breakdown of the world’s largest cruise ships:
|Wonder of the Seas||7K||1188 ft (362m)|
|Oasis of the Seas||6.8K||1181 ft (360m)|
|Allure of the Seas||6.8K||1181 ft (360m)|
|Harmony of the Seas||6.7K||1187 ft (362m)|
|Symphony of the Seas||6.7K||1184 ft (361m)|
Cruise Industry Demographics
- 57% of cruisers are college graduates.
- 83% of cruise passengers are married.
- Cruisers spend around $385 in the port city before boarding a ship.
- During a typical cruise, passengers spend an average of $750 per person in port cities.
- Cruise passengers are 47 years old, on average.
|Age Range||Share of Cruise Passengers|
- 85% of Millennials plan to cruise in the future, compared to 82% of Gen Xers and 79% of Gen Zers.
- Eight in 10 cruisers are likely to book their next vacation on a cruise ship.
- ~70% of cruisers are willing to board a cruise ship next year.
- Almost 60% of people who have never cruised say they are likely to cruise in the next few years.
- 70% of cruisers have an annual household income greater than $80K.
|Country||Number of Cruise Passengers|
- 17% of Americans have cruised at least once.
- Most cruisers (77%) travel with a spouse.
- 30% of cruise passengers travel mainly with under-aged children.
- A quarter of cruisers generally travel with friends.
Cruise Ships Pollute but Are Good at Recycling
- A 3K-person cruise ship generates an average of 150K gallons (567 liters) of sewage per week.
- Cruise ships dump as much as 1B gallons (3.7B liters) of bacteria, heavy metals, and nutrients into the sea yearly.
- Here’s an overview of the waste produced by a 3K-passenger cruise ship during one week voyage:
|Gray water (non-toilet water waste)||1M gallons (3.7M liters)|
|Black water (toilet waste)||210K gallons (794K liters)|
|Oily water||25K gallons (94K liters)|
|Toxic waste||130 gallons (492 liters)|
|Garbage and solid waste||16 tons|
- The cruise line industry dumps 285K gallons (1M liters) of wastewater into the sea every day.
- 75% of solid waste is incinerated on cruise ships, and the ash is typically discharged at sea.
- 24% of the solid waste generated by all ships comes from cruise ships.
- Cruise ships recycle 60% more waste daily than people on land.
- Cruise lines recycle 80K tons of paper, plastic, aluminum, and glass each year.
COVID-19 Impact on Cruise Tourism
- The global revenue from cruises dropped by 88% in 2020.
- The cruise industry made just $3B in 2020 compared to 27B in 2019.
- The revenue growth in the cruise market is expected to plateau at 3% by 2026.
- The number of cruise passengers globally dropped by 84% in 2020.
|Number of Cruise Passengers||Year|
- The cruise industry expected to carry 32M passengers in 2020.
- The number of ocean cruise passengers stood at 7M in 2020.
- Only 5M people went ocean cruising in 2021.
- The number of cruise passengers from North America dropped from 15M in 2019 to 3M in 2020.
- In 2021, the cruise industry declined by 25% compared to 2020.
- In the Middle East, the number of cruise passengers declined by 92% in 2020, followed by a 160% increase in 2021.
- In North America, the number of cruise passengers dropped by 80% in 2020 and continued to decline by another 25% in 2021.
- Leading cruise companies saw a 90% drop in revenue in 2021 compared to 2019.
- Here’s a look at the net income of the largest cruise companies between 2019 and 2021:
|Norwegian Cruise Line||0.9B||-4B||-4.5B|
- The cruise industry’s economic contribution in 2019 was $154B.
- In 2020, the economic contribution of the cruise industry dropped by 59% to $63B.
- Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, cruise industry-supported jobs shrank by 50%.
- The number of cruise passengers will surpass the 2019 levels by 2024.
Stacking It All Up
There you have it.
A comprehensive list of cruise industry statistics, facts, and trends to help you better understand the market and its direction.
Was there a statistic you found particularly surprising? Or maybe there are other cruising stats you’d like to see?
Let us know in the comments.
Is the cruise industry growing?
Before 2019, the cruise industry had a 3–5% yearly growth, but in 2020, the market saw a drop of over 80% due to COVID. In 2021, the market got back on track, seeing a 300% increase in revenue and 50% in passenger numbers.
How big is the cruise line industry?
There are over 60 ocean cruise lines, operating a total of 430 ships. In 2019 (before coronavirus), these cruises brought $27B in revenue. By the end of 2023, that number is expected to reach $25B.
Who are the biggest players in the cruise industry?
Three companies made 85% of the total revenue in the cruise industry in 2021. These are Carnival Cruise (45%), Royal Caribbean Group (25%), and Norwegian Cruise Line (15%).
What’s the #1 cruise line in the world?
Carnival Cruise Lines is the #1 cruise line in the world in terms of revenue ($12.168B). However, Royal Caribbean has five of the world’s largest cruise ships in its fleet.
How much money does the cruise industry make?
The cruise industry made $18B in revenue in 2022. It’s also set to reach $30B by 2024.
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Adam is an SEO & Digital PR writer with a child’s curiosity about the surrounding world. His superpower to dig out juicy facts got him citations in Forbes, Social Media Today, and 90+ other news outlets. Adam enjoys snapping pictures and won the national Huawei Next Image Award.