Cruising Ahead: An Overview of The Maritime Industry

10 min

Cruises have long been a holiday favourite. Stopping at a variety of destinations and with luxury on-board facilities, tourists worldwide choose to spend their summers on the seas.

With the list of cruise destinations ever growing, along with the size of the vessels themselves, the possibilities of cruise travel are too. Add on top the more alternative voyages which are emerging – expedition packages and river routes – and it’s unsurprising that the cruise industry is undergoing substantial growth.

The most recent orderbook was priced at just under $60 billion. This year alone, 27.2 million passengers are expected to cruise. By 2020, growth in the industry will have added $11bn in revenue. It seems, in spite of Brexit hitting so many international trades, the cruise industry is booming.

Industry Growth in Figures

Between 2011 and 2016, the demand for cruising increased by a staggering 20.5%. As reported by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), 449 CLIA affiliated ships were used in 2017, and an additional 27 new ocean, river and specialty affiliated ships are scheduled to debut on top of that in 2018.

69 new ships are on order within the next 3 years, the value of the 2018-27 orderbook exceeding $58.8 billion. The current orderbook already represents another 212,119 berths being added to the global cruise fleet in the 5 years up to 2023.

What’s more, on top of the increase in the number of ships, cruise lines are investing heavily in refurbishment of their existing ships, with US $1.5 billion spent on cruise ship refurbishment in 2016 alone.



What Is Driving Growth?


The Mega Ship

The creation of the ‘mega-ship’ is a huge contributor to industry growth, driving more customers into the industry with their unique, novel appeal as well as the obvious increased capacity.

The Royal Caribbean International’s ‘Symphony of the Seas’, for example, is 1,188 feet (362 m) in length and has a gross tonnage of 228,081 across 18 decks. It can accommodate up to 6,680 passengers as well as a 2,200-person crew. Some of the on-board facilities include a children's water park, a full-size basketball court, ice-skating rink, and two 43-foot rock-climbing walls.

Larger ships offer more activities and a greater number of facilities, so by extension a much better family experience. They are also, for the most part, cheaper than luxury cruises so appeal to a wider customer market.



A Wider Variety of Locations

It is inevitable that passengers – regular cruisers especially – will seek out new destination experiences; cruises are no longer just Europe-bound, but exploring more remote and exotic regions every year.

Travel to colder climates is becoming increasingly popular, Norway being a major example for its fjords and Northern Lights. Other more remote island destinations include Micronesia or the whale-watching capital of Europe, Husavik in Iceland, Ho Chi Minh City or Dakar, Senegal.



With larger vessels and a fine tuned trade, cruising is no longer only an activity for ‘elite’ travellers, but an affordable getaway for families of all sizes. In fact, according to a recent survey, 33% of cruisers who have taken a cruise within the past three years have a household income less than $80K.


Speciality Cruises



New generations bring with them new demand, and Millennials in particular are seeking new, unique experiences away from the ‘traditional’ cruise set-up. River and small ship cruising continues to gain traction amongst young travellers, through the likes of China, Southeast Asia, Russia, Ukraine and Egypt. The number of UK passengers taking a river cruise has grown by 10,000, taking the total now to 150,300.

Other specialist cruises include expedition vessels, the most popular being those run by National Geographic. From Antarctica to Alaska, their expedition cruises explore some of the most remote regions in the world, where passengers can ride alongside professional expedition teams of photographers, marine biologists, historians, and naturalists.

Niche cruise lines are also widening the usual cruise experience tailoring their trips for the health conscious – from wellness seminars and fitness to calorie conscious food choices.


A Word From The Experts

Access Cruise Inc. are but one company benefitting from the cruise industry growth. I spoke with Linda Vazquez, VP of Account Management to hear her thoughts on the current market climate:

“With more than 100 ships scheduled to be delivered over the next 10 years, the industry is hungry for untapped destinations, fresh experiences and new products to offer guests. But growth can't happen without the manpower to deliver it.  As the maritime industry continues flourish, you'll find Access Cruise at the helm of innovation and expansion.” 


The Need For Specialist Talent

Whilst growth is a huge positive for every party involved, it also creates further demand for quality leaders in an already sparse talent pool.

From Project Managers and technical staff working on new builds and refits, to those in operational management roles planning for the future of the industry in response to market change, there is a strong demand for niche expertise and employees who can bring with them relevant experiences.

We already work with a variety of leading cruise lines globally, alongside a huge number of other industry players, recruiting business-critical roles for Senior Shore based and Ship Positions across Operations, New builds, and Refurbishments.

If your company would benefit from our services, or you would like to find out more about the work myself and my team can do, contact me at, or on +44 (0) 113 239 5925.


Linda works at The Access Cruise Inc., a Miami-based, boutique Sales and Marketing Consulting group. For more information on Access Cruise, their clients and expertise, visit their website at




FTN News, The bright future of cruise industry, 3.7.17

Telegraph, Popularity of Cruise Holidays Grows, 16.3.16