According to the latest publication from U.K.-based market consultants Ocean Shipping Consultants –World Cruise Ports and Shipping – the global cruise sector is forecast to exhibit dynamic growth in the period up to 2025, taking annual passenger demand up from around 20.9 million in 2012 to approximately 24 million passengers by 2015, 29.7 million by 2020 and 36.4 million by 2025. This represents an overall forward expansion of 74 per cent.

North America will still dominate the world cruise industry in terms of sourced passengers and cruise operators, but Europe and Asia-Pacific are expected to grow strongly. This will have major implications for cruise capacity deployment, cruise ports development, cruise ship construction and cruise shiprepair.

Some of the report’s key findings of importance to Ports are:

Cruise ship operators and world cruise shipping patterns

• North Europe has witnessed one of the fastest growths in the cruise sector in most recent years, generated not only by interest from markets within Europe, but also from North American markets.

• The most robust growth since the mid-2000s was recorded in the Asia-Pacific market, with total capacity increasing by more than 6 times over 2004-12, to an estimated 7.8 million bed-days in 2012.

Cruise ports and economic impact

•At the global level, North America still dominates the world cruise industry, with approximately 10.74 million passenger embarkations in 2012. Recent years have seen a reversal of the preceding decline, when economic downturn saw passenger numbers fall by 2.4 per cent for 2008 and 1 per cent for 2009.

• Total passenger numbers embarking from European ports reached 5.7 million in 2012, a 2.5-per-cent growth from 2011, and double that of 2005.

• Florida is the centre of cruising in the U.S. The top three cruise ports in Florida are also the world’s top three: Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral.

• The Caribbean is the world’s most popular cruise destination, with the majority of ports in the region being destination ports or ports of call, as opposed to home ports. The Bahamas tops the list in terms of passenger arrivals.

• The economic impact of cruise activity on a port is significant, and the difference in this regard between a port of call and a home port – even if actual passenger numbers handled are similar – can be large.

• Individual Port Authorities – as well as local/regional/national governments – have increasingly become aware of the massive potential economic benefit of increased cruise activity. Competition between ports/regions to attract more vessel calls, and ultimately home-port activity, is set to remain intense.

Cruise passenger demand and ship demand to 2025

• The world cruise passenger volume total is forecast to expand from around 20.9 million in 2012, to approximately 24 million passengers by 2015, 29.7 million by 2020, and 36.4 million by 2025.

• North America as a source market will continue to dominate during the period up to 2025, although its significance is expected to decrease from the current 56 per cent to 50 per cent by 2025.

• The European source markets are expected to reach 12 million by 2025. Strong growth is expected from Asia and the rest of the world, with the aggregate representing over 17 per cent of the global total by 2025 at 6.3 million, rising from 12.7 per cent in 2012, and 8.4 per cent in the mid-2000s.

• Required cruise ship capacity is expected to increase from the current 464,000 berths (2012) to 866,000 berths by 2025.