Asia cruise market sails to record 2018 numbers but faces slowdown for China

Marina Bay Cruise Centre

While cruise passengers in Asia hit a new high in 2018, China – which makes up the lion’s share – is showing signs of a slowdown while Asian markets the likes of Singapore and India see double-digit growth.

In 2018, 4.2 million people took an ocean cruise, up 4.6% year-on-year, according to data released today by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Marina Bay Cruise Centre, Singapore

Asia continues to be the cruise industry’s third largest market after North America and Europe, CLIA figures show, maintaining a 14.8% share of the total global ocean passenger volume (28.5 million) for 2018.

Most of the source markets in Asia saw year-on-year gains in 2018 except mainland China and Malaysia.

In particular, passenger volume from Singapore, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam saw double-digit growth.

Mainland China retained its dominance as a source market, accounting for 55.8% of all Asian passengers, although the Chinese market has been going through a period of adjustment and saw a marginal 1.6% decline in passengers.

The more measured increase in Asia’s passenger volume did not come as a surprise as cruise ship capacity dipped in 2018 after years of rapid expansion in this region. Asia’s slowdown in ship capacity is due to the strong demand for cruise ships worldwide, and reduced short cruise itinerary options, CLIA says.

“In the next few years, cruising in Asia is expected to continue growing in popularity with the arrival of new ships in 2019/2020 including from Costa Cruises, Genting Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International and MSC Cruises,” said CLIA managing director for Australasia & Asia Joel Katz.

“We also see several Asian destinations building new infrastructure to support cruise development,” he said. “Consumer interest in cruise has also been rising as Asian travellers discover the ease, relaxation and value of a cruise vacation.”

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