CLIA’s 2020 Cruise Outlook: Focusing In On Responsible Tourism

Anna Kroupina, Open Jaw

In its newly released 2020 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) paints the picture of an industry-wide commitment to responsible tourism practices, with a focus on environmental sustainability and destination stewardship. 

The report highlights the industry’s investment in developing energy-efficient technologies, partnerships with local governments in key destinations, and a commitment to reducing its rate of carbon emissions by 40% by 2030 compared to 2008. 

In total, cruising sustained 1,177,000 jobs as of the latest statistics from 2018, paying US$50.24 billion in salaries and generating US$150 billion in total output worldwide. 

“While demand for cruising has reached new heights, the cruise industry is accelerating our efforts to be a leader in responsible tourism,” said Kelly Craighead, president and CEO, CLIA. 

“Our members are at the forefront of best practices designed to protect the sanctity of the destinations we visit and enhance the experiences of travellers and residents alike."

The report predicts that 32 million passengers will set sail in 2020. To meet ongoing demand, CLIA members are scheduled to debut 19 new ocean ships in the upcoming year, resulting in a total of 278 CLIA ocean ships that will be in operation by the end of 2020. 

In another recently released report, the 2018 Global Economic Impact Analysis, CLIA found that passengers spend an average US$376 in port cities before boarding a cruise and US$101 in each port destination during a cruise. North America accounts for the highest rate of cruisers with 14.2 million North Americans cruising in 2018.

“The industry’s economic impact is a big part of the story, especially as it relates to our passengers’ contributions to local economies and the diverse workforce onboard our ships,” said Craighead. 

“We recognize that with growth comes increased responsibility to raise the bar in all aspects of what we do to ensure cruising remains a force for good and the best way to experience the world.” 

2020 Cruise Industry Trends


  • Environmental Sustainability: The development of new technologies and cleaner fuels is a top priority for the cruise industry.
    • 44% of newbuilds will rely on Liquified Natural Gas for primary propulsion
    • 68% of global capacity currently utilizes Exhaust Gas Cleaning Systems (EGCS), while 75% of non-LNG new-builds will have EGCS
    • 100% of newbuilds will have Advanced Wastewater Treatment Systems in place
    • 88% of newbuilds will have or be configured to add Shore-side Power
    • Additional Areas of Focus: battery propelled vessels, advanced recycling practices, reduced plastic use, energy-efficient lighting, solar energy, and fuel cell. 


  • Destination Stewardship: In collaboration with local communities, the cruise industry is exploring new and creative ways to manage the flow of visitors and implement the highest standards of responsible tourism including: 
    • Partnerships with local governments
    • Staggered arrivals and departures
    • Excursion diversification 
    • Shoreside power
    • Local passenger spending


  • Cruise & Stay: The State of the Cruise Industry Outlook found more travellers are spending time in and near cruise ports. In fact, 65% of cruise pax spend a few extra days at embarkation or debarkation ports.


  • Reduce Single-Use Plastic: The study found that more than 82% of cruise passengers recycle, 80% reduce using single-use plastics while travelling and 70% forego plastic straws.


  • Generation Cruise Positive: More than 66% of Generation X and 71% of Millennials have a more positive attitude about cruising compared to two years ago.


  • Lone Cruisers: Marriage rates are declining and the number of single adults is growing globally. As a result, cruise lines are responding to the shift in passenger demographics by offering studio cabins and single-friendly activities and eliminating single supplements.


  • Micro Travel: Trip durations are continuing to evolve, with many travellers looking for quick trips. Cruise lines are offering bite-sized cruises over a three-to-five-day period offering shorter itineraries to a variety of destinations.


For the full 2020 State of the Cruise Industry Outlook findings, click here

Anna Kroupina

Anna Kroupina Journalist

Anna is OJ's newest member and she joins the team as a writer/reporter. She co-writes the daily news and covers events. Although she's new to the industry, pursuing a career path in travel/tourism has been a goal since her first family road trip to the Florida Keys sparked a desire to discover the world and this exhilarating, fast-paced industry.

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