Growth of the Ocean Cruise Line Industry

Worldwide, the ocean cruise industry had an annual passenger compound annual growth rate of 6.6% from 1990 - 2019.

However, COVID-19 halted the ocean passenger cruise industry for what is currently estimated as a total of 11 months. It also accelerated the retirement of numerous ships as fleets become more modern and environmentally friendly. Between 2019 and 2021 a total of 31 ships are leaving worldwide ocean cruise operations, reducing passenger capacity by 49,105. These numbers are offset to a degree by 8 new ships with passenger capacity of 34,312 that will be added in 2021 (refer to tables below).

This places worldwide ocean cruise passenger capacity at 581,200 from 323 ships which will carry a total of 13.9 million passengers at end of year 2021 (a 96.2% increase over 2020 and a -49.4% decline from 2019).

The market talks to each other, influences each other. So progress gets amplified. The more people who have ocean cruised, the more who will tell others, the more who will want to take an ocean cruise too. Growth strategies to date have been driven by larger capacity new builds and ship diversification, more local ports, more destinations and new on-board/on-shore activities that match demands of consumers.  The industry is also expanding rapidly internationally. These activities help increase penetration in a core North American market that still has growth potential.  Only 53% of the target North American market (or 24% of the whole U.S. population) have ever taken an ocean cruise.  All the cruise ships in the entire world filled at capacity all year long still only amount to less than ½ of the total number of visitors to Las Vegas

Shipbuilding Summary

2021 New Build Ships Est. Date Passenger Capacity
Carnival Mardi Gras 2/28/2021 5200
Royal Caribbean Odyssey of the Seas 4/1/2021 4180
MSC MSC Virtuosa 4/1/2021 4900
Virgin Voyages Valiant Lady 4/1/2021 2860
AIDA AIDAcosma 4/1/2021 5186
Holland America Rotterdam 7/1/2021 2650
Princess Discovery Princess 11/1/2021 3560
Costa Costa Toscana 11/1/2021 5776


Ship Retirements

2019-2021 Removed Ships Passenger Capacity
Carnival Carnival Elation 2056
Carnival Carnival Fantasy 2056
Carnival Carnival Fascination 2056
Carnival Carnival Inspiration 2056
Carnival Carnival Imagination 2056
Costa Cruises Costa neoClassica 1328
Costa Cruises Costa neoRomantica 1806
Costa Cruises Costa Victoria 1928
Costa Cruises Costa Mediterranea 2114
Holland America Prinsendam 793
Holland America Maasdam 1258
Holland America Veendam 1258
Holland America Amsterdam 1380
Holland America Rotterdam VI 1316
P&O Cruises Oceana 2016
P&O Cruises Australia P&O Pacific Aria 1258
P&O Cruises Australia P&O Pacific Dawn 1864
Princess Dawn Princess 1950
Princess Sun Princess 1950
Princess Sea Princess 1950
Pullmantur Monarch 2356
Pullmantur Zenith 1420
Pullmantur Horizon 1442
Pullmantur Sovereign 2280
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas 1950
Royal Caribbean Empress of the Seas 1628
Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas 2352
Silversea Silver Discoverer 128
Silversea Silver Galapagos 100
Fred. Olsen Cruise Line Boudicca 500
Fred. Olsen Cruise Line Black Watch 500

2021 worldwide passengers carried estimates assume post COVID-19 sailings begin March 1, 2021 at 50% capacity and reach 90% capacity by end of year (pre COVID-19 sailings were at 105%-109% capacity).

Sources: Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., Carnival Corporation and plc, NCL Corporation Ltd., Thomson/First Call, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), The Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA), DVB Bank and proprietary Cruise Market Watch Cruise Pulse data.