North America Cruise Market Shrinking?

According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), over the last few years, the average market growth in North America has been just short of 3 percent, compared to 5 percent for internationally sourced passengers for the CUA member ships.

In 2005, 9.7 million American passengers cruised, according to CUA, in 2006, approximately 10 million; in 2007, 10.2 million; in 2008 10.2 million; and in 2009, I 0.4 million Americans are expected to cruise.

At the same time, the international passenger component on the CLIA fleet has grown from 1.5 million to 3.1 million passengers.

North American cruise lines are sourcing more passengers from foreign source markets, and Royal Caribbean Cruises has stated that by 2012 more than 50 percent of its passengers will be sourced outside of North America. Even when its foreign brands are excluded, it means that a larger portion of the passengers on Royal Caribbean’s North American brands will also be foreign. Today, Royal Caribbean’s foreign brands represent about 10 percent of its passenger capacity.

Carnival Corporation has told Cruise Industry News it expects to generate some 40 percent of its revenues outside the U.S. by next year. Today, its foreign brands represent approximately 30 percent of Carnival’s passenger capacity.

By the Numbers

According to Cruise Industry News estimates, North American cruise capacity is 11.2 million in 2009. CLIA claims 13.5 million passengers this year, but if its European members are excluded, including Costa Crociere and MSC Cruises, CLIA’s annual passenger capacity will also be approximately 11.2 million, similar to Cruise Industry News’ estimates.

CLIA also claims that 3. 1 million passengers are being sourced internationally. Again, if its European member lines are excluded, that number is reduced to about 1 million, for 10 percent of the North American capacity.

Going forward to 2012, however, with an estimated North American cruise capacity of 12.5 million passengers, if 10 percent are internationally sourced, the North American passenger contingent is reduced to 11.3 million. If on top of that, Royal Caribbean will source 50 percent of its passengers internationally, excluding its European brands and its portion of the 10 percent of the passengers already sourced internationally (above), the North American passenger numbers will be reduced further to less than 10 million. In that case, the North American market will have shrunk since 2009.

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