2013 Trends in Deployment

Ships in Aruba (photo: Sergio Ferreira)Emerging markets? Yes and no. The bread and butter of the cruise industry’s global deployment is still happening in the same places – North America, the Caribbean and Europe, even as operators cleverly move ships into other markets.

In fact, with all the talk of new markets around the world, the Caribbean’s overall market share is actually up for 2013 – as well as passenger arrivals based on double occupancy, in data sourced from the 2013 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.

Following the Caribbean’s 40 percent industry market share is the Mediterranean at 20 percent, slightly down from a rough 2012 driven by the euro-zone crisis, and Northern Europe, at 9.5 percent, a significant increase from 2012.

Asia, meanwhile, adds some 300,000 passengers for the year, representing 7.6 percent of the industry. More ships are moving to the region, with operators claiming its importance and pledging more capacity, although still very carefully putting their toes into the water. (Usually in the form of older tonnage.)

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Alaska continues to see a positive effect of its head-tax reduction, but is still some 80,000 passengers off its 2008 record-setting mark of 1,004,335.

South America, another destination heralded as an emerging market, is seeing a rather abrupt plateau, and even a decline, with some cruise lines reducing capacity for the 2013/2014 season.

Down Under, Australia’s numbers are up too, but its growth curve is clearly leveling off, contributing to a 3.1 percent share of the market.

A rough tumble on the West Coast of North America for the Mexican Riviera market sees capacity struggle to reach 500,000, a far cry from a 2008 number of nearly 1.2 million.These numbers, as bad as they are, may be the bottom as cruise lines have already announced increased deployment in the area for 2014.

The Red Sea continues to be significantly off where it was once in terms of market share, still feeling the ongoing effects of the Arab Spring, while deployment in Canada/New England, Africa, Hawaii, and Bermuda remains relatively flat.

New ships will help contribute to the smaller-but-growing markets, as cruise operators build to replace older tonnage and slowly expand their brands.

Older tonnage and even modern tonnage will then be pushed to emerging and secondary markets, thus even allowing for a third-tier ship to be moved into yet more new or soft markets.

Cruise lines will continue to move and position their fleet where the numbers are the most in the green – but that is based on a number of constantly-changing variables, including ticket price, associated costs from fuel to port fees, airlift, onboard revenue, sourcing potential, geopolitical issues, environmental regulations and more

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