State of the Cruise Industry 2021

CLIA, the world’s largest cruise industry trade organisation, has released the 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report. The report highlights the industry’s global economic impact, trend forecasts and it’s continued commitment to responsible tourism practices and leadership.

Despite a challenging year in 2020, new research reveals there is optimism on the horizon with two out of three cruisers willing to cruise within a year.

“For the cruise community, there is no denying that 2020 was not the year we anticipated. Still, the industry wasted no time adjusting course to address the challenges before us. With the year drawing to a close, we are pleased to share CLIA’s 2021 report that highlights the extraordinary steps that cruise community took to develop and implement enhanced public health protocols to keep putting people first, while continuing to focus on innovation and responsible tourism practices that make cruising the best way to experience the world.”

Kelly Craighead, president and CEO of CLIA

Global Economic Impact and Passenger Data

In 2019, cruising sustained 1,166,000 jobs equaling $50.53 billion in wages and salaries and $154.5 billion total output worldwide in 2019. The analysis also found:

Passenger Port City Spending – Passengers spent $385 in port cities before boarding and spend $100 in each visiting port destination.

Global Passengers – Most Cruisers from North America – The cruise industry hosted a total of 29.7 million passengers worldwide in 2019. North America accounts for the highest rate of cruisers with 15.4 million passengers cruising in 2019.

Jobs Impact from Covid-19 Suspension – In 2020, every 1% loss of cruisers resulted in a reduction of 9,100 industry-related jobs. Each day of the suspension, caused direct and indirect industry losses of 2,500 jobs.

New Cruise Protocols

CLIA Cruise Lines are anticipate debuting 19 new ocean ships in 2021. A total of 270 CLIA Cruise Line ocean ships projected to be in operation by the end of 2021. Looking ahead, this “Fleet of the Future” will feature enhanced health and safety cruise protocols designed to help protect passengers, crew and destinations.

Successful Sailings – From early July through mid-December 2020, there were more than 200 sailings with multiple layers of enhanced measures in place. The success of these initial sailings demonstrates new protocols are working as designed.

New Cruise Protocols – Some of the new protocols include crew and passenger COVID-19 testing prior to embarkation, mask wearing, physical distancing, air management and ventilation strategies as well as enhanced medical capabilities.

Spotlight on Responsible Tourism

As CLIA members worked to address the impacts of COVID-19, the cruise industry also remained focused on its commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable future. The report highlights the industry’s $23.5 billion investment in ships with new technologies and cleaner fuels to reduce carbon emissions, partnerships with local governments in key destinations, and a commitment to reducing its rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008. The report highlights the progress the cruise industry is making in the adoption of new environmental technologies.

Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) – 49% of new build capacity on order will rely on LNG fuel for primary propulsion.

Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (ECGS) – More than 69% of global capacity currently utilizes EGCS. 96% of non-LNG new-builds will have EGCS.

Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems – 99% of new ships will have these systems in place

Shore Side Electricity – 58% of new build capacity is committed SSE compatibility. 32% of global fleet capacity already capable of SSE and 25% of existing capacity will be retrofitted to use SSE.

“2020 was a year unlike any other and I am proud of how our industry has united together to weather this unparalleled pandemic. As we look to 2021, I know that cruisers are eager to set sail once more, just as our industry is eager to put people back to work and create unforgettable experiences for our valued guests.”

Adam Goldstein, CLIA Chairman
At the end of a tough year for the cruise industry, CLIA has published the 2021 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook report.


  1. January 17, 2021 / 2:16 pm

    Nice summary on the cruising industry! Really hope they bounce back strong post COVID. I’m delighted to see the increase use of LNG for propulsion too 👍🏻

    • cruiselifestyle
      January 21, 2021 / 10:01 pm

      Yes, it looks like cruisers are still eager to return, which is positive. Technological advances are making cruise ships kinder to the environment.

  2. January 18, 2021 / 7:59 am

    I can understand why the cruise industry was hit so hard during the pandemic. The bad initial press was quite sobering and I hope the cruise industry revamps to regain consumer trust.

    • cruiselifestyle
      January 21, 2021 / 10:03 pm

      Yes, sadly the media focus on cruises early in the pandemic was damaging but the response by cruise lines for plans to resume safely is encouraging.

  3. January 20, 2021 / 9:30 pm

    Always good to see another perspective on the state of the cruise industry. With over 20 cruises we are certainly missing our time at sea. I did not know there were over 200 sailings in the back end of 2020. Great to see the cruise lines investing in newer technology for the new ships.

  4. Eat, drink and be Kerry
    January 22, 2021 / 6:04 am

    Cruising is such a big thing for many people and is also a huge industry. It’s good to know that there is optimism for the industry’s future.

  5. January 22, 2021 / 1:11 pm

    I’m glad that people are optimistic and still booking cruises despite the uncertainty! I can’t wait until we can all travel again.

Leave a Reply