State of the Cruise Industry 2024: Green, Spending, China, Supply

State of the Industry 2024

The 2024 state of the cruise industry panel took place in Miami Beach on Tuesday morning, with leadership from the four major cruise corporations accounting for over 80 percent of global capacity.

Green Discussions

Jason Liberty, president and CEO, Royal Caribbean Group said there is more opportunity to evolve sustainability technology.

“We need to make sure we have fuel sources, that are green fuel sources, that allow us to be able to burn and get to a net zero position,” said Liberty, adding the new fuels need to be available, scalable and affordable, noting both green methanol and eLNG.

Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, Cruise Division of MSC Group, said there needs to be a global approach on decarbonizing the maritime industry.

“We are building ships amortized over 30 years, we need a (long-term) view … We need technology. We are pushing our suppliers to find solutions,” said Vago.

Harry Sommer, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, explained there were no fewer than 10 different and somewhat incompatible rules that regulate the cruise industry. Sommer suggested there should be an end goal.

“We don’t compete on safety or decarbonization,” he said. “We may need to take a longer-term approach to this with governments instead of mandating these things that are incompatible.”

John Weinstein, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, said that among the components of decarbonization were distance and speed.

“We are not becoming a cruise industry that just caters to the Bahamas. We are an industry that caters to where the guests want to go,” Weinstein said.

“It could mean there are less ports. There may be itineraries that don’t do four stops in seven nights, maybe it’s three. Maybe in 10 years it is two ports; I don’t know,” he said.

What’s Next

Weinstein said the current demand profile is unprecedented.

“Our outlook for 2024 are record yields, record demand and record passengers carried,” Weinstein said. “Our bookings for 2025 are better than they were last year at this point for 2024.”

Weinstein said it was natural demand at this point, instead of post covid pent-up demand.

He pointed to both a value gap compared to land-based vacations as well as a service gap.

“It gives us an opportunity to excel and create that incremental demand,” said Weinstein.

Royal Caribbean’s Liberty noted demographic trends favoring cruise, underlined by building memories with friends and families coming out of the pandemic.

“The future is exceptionally bright,” Liberty said.

Coming out of covid, Sommer said products from other brands were getting better and driving additional excitement for the rest of the industry.

“When any new ship is delivered … demand improves for all of us,” Sommer added.

Spending Up

Weinstein said that spending is up.

“That means drinking and eating well, shore excursions, spa and connectivity,” Weinstein said. “Connectivity used to be an existential threat and now that is a non-issue.”

Liberty underlined that guests want to walk away with a story, which may range from shore excursions to culinary and beverage onboard.

“Building those memories with friends and family is almost priceless,” Liberty noted.


Vago said that there is pent up demand in China for cruises.

“Visas are becoming tougher to get and Chinese want to travel internationally and cruising is an organic and easy low-hanging fruit for them,” Vago said. “The bookings are strong and we are surprised.”

The MSC Bellissima started service from China in March and will be joined by the Splendida later this year.

Liberty said China had a prosperous future but Royal Caribbean would go in with a measured approach. The Spectrum will be in Shanghai starting this month and a second ship, the Ovation, joins the operation in 2025.

Weinstein said Carnival Corporation had taken a different approach, shifting tonnage away from China with Costa, and moving ships to the Carnival brand, which he said was bursting with demand.

“We’ll take a wait-and-see approach,” Weinstein said.

Sommer said China could be on the horizon in the future, pointing to the 2030s when the company would consider the market again.

Supply Outlook

Weinstein said the Carnival Corporation, which makes up nine brands and over 90 ships, would continue to order one to two ships a year.

“We can’t beat around the $30 billion of debt bush we have staring at us,” he said.

Sommer said the future was bright, driving the company’s decision to place an eight-ship order earlier this week with deliveries into 2036.

Vago said that as demand naturally continues to increase, there is opportunity to grow, but it has to be done logically.

“The yards can only build so many ships, so it’s very much controlled,” Vago said. “We have to face the fact some of the old tonnage will fade away.”

Weinstein said cruise lines can get more revenue growth by driving more demand from limited supply.

“There is only a finite amount of cabins, and if you can get more demand … That is what we strive for. We want outsized demand for what we have to offer.”

Liberty said the industry was continuing on its modest capacity growth trek.

“That is what we are collectivity seeing, which also aligns to the constraints of how quickly the yards can build. Moderate capacity growth drives good yield growth,” he said.

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