The luxury cruise market is projected to carry just over 1 million guests this year, up from over 600,000 in 2019, and heading for 1.5 million by 2030, according to the 2023 Luxury Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
New players, new ships and an expanding market is the overarching theme for the luxury cruise segment through the end of the decade.
Approximately half of 2023’s class of new cruise ships are smaller luxury ships. They are as diverse as ever, ranging from 930-guest ships for Viking to a 100-passenger yacht-like vessel for Emerald, according to the 2023 Luxury Cruise Market Report by Cruise Industry News.
Commanding some of the highest ticket prices in the industry, luxury ships are under 1,000 guests, offer more exotic and longer itineraries, and a more refined, five- to six-star product aboard that is mostly all-inclusive.
Coming out of the pandemic that sidelined all of travel, but singled out the cruise industry which was the first to shutdown and last to recover, the small ships may be in the best position going forward.
Smaller ships, more space per passenger, and higher-net-worth guests, which are mostly wealthy Americans, may be the right recipe going forward.
The modern day cruise industry has been a story of growth since its start out of Miami in the mid-1960s.
This theme is backed into the luxury operators, which have grown since Royal Viking Line and Crystal Cruises got things started. Since then, it has been more operators and more ships.
To some extent, the market will continue to grow no matter what. Four shipyards in Europe that specialize in building cruise ship can offer attractive government-backed financing.
If existing cruise lines don’t buy new ships, new players will.
New players are among the trends heading into the rest of the decade. Joining The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Four Seasons is next in 2025, followed by Orient Express in 2026. Other rumors suggest more luxury properties are looking at licensing deals with white-label cruise startups.