Having carried an estimated 5.7 million passengers mostly before the industry shut down in 2020, compared to 27.8 million in 2019, the cruise lines will have the capacity to carry 31.7 million passengers in 2022 and growing that to 38.7 million passengers by 2027, according to the 2021 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
The projections are based on ship deployments and the 105-ship strong orderbook scheduled for deliveries through 2027.
At press time, industry executives expect to resume partial service by mid-2021, building up to full deployment in 2022, when the global fleet will consist of nearly 450 ships.
The prevalence of COVID-19 will be a key factor determining when the industry can resume full service, however. That prevalence will in turn be impacted by the rate of containment and vaccinations not only in the passenger source markets, but also in destinations on a global scale.
2019, which was the last full year of service, saw more than 60 percent of the industry capacity concentrated in the Caribbean, Mediterranean and Northern Europe.