What you need to know

In 2018, the global cruise industry earned an estimated $4.56 billion (a 4.6% increase over 2017) and carried an estimated 26 million annualized passengers. River cruising has become more popular over the last few years. It is poised to become even more popular as travelers realize how their itineraries, with multiple destinations and increasingly immersive shoreline experiences, dovetail with current overall travel trends. Meanwhile, ocean cruise ships are modernizing their on-board offerings with eye-popping rides, quality dining experiences and activities that fit the tastes of a younger consumer set that is keen on the prospect of cruising. Of course, the industry will have to also find solutions to the environmental issues they cause as travelers, especially younger ones, are more attuned to cruising’s effect on the planet.


A “cruise” is large ship leisure travel. This analysis is focused both on ocean-going and river cruises. An ocean cruise is defined as leisure travel on an ocean vessel that travels through large bodies of water, such as oceans, seas and gulfs. A river cruise is defined as leisure travel on a river ship that travels along inland waterways.

The US passenger cruise market is defined as the portion of the global cruise market attributable to passengers sourced from the US.

This report builds on analysis presented in Mintel’s Cruises – US, September 2017 as well as the 2015, 2013, 2012, and 2010 Reports of the same title.

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