The number of people around the world who took a cruise holiday grew by ten per cent last year – an increase of almost two million people which topped 20 million global ocean cruise passengers for the first time.
The numbers increased from 18.7 million to 20.6 million between 2010 and 2011. The main markets are North America (11.5 million) and Europe (6.2 million).
Christine Duffy, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) president, said: “We are delighted to see ten per cent annual global growth in cruise passengers last year, with milestones being broken all over the world as growth continues.
“This is the first time that European figures have passed six million and the first time Australian cruise passengers have topped half a million.
“The latest statistics clearly show that the cruise industry has proved resilient during difficult economic conditions and these results are a testament to the industry’s ongoing innovation and investment.
“As we continually improve operations, an d add new and exciting innovations and itineraries, we’re confident our sector has huge potential for continued growth on a global basis.”
European cruise numbers last year were up nine per cent on the 5.56 million Europeans who took a cruise in 2010.
Countries including the UK, Germany, Italy, Spain and France have seen cruise passengers increase by an average of seven per cent to 15 per cent in the past five years.
William Gibbons, director of the Passenger Shipping Association, said: “British ocean cruise passengers exceeded 1.7 million for the first time in 2011 and are currently the second largest source of cruise passengers in the world.
“We are looking forward to that growth continuing as new ships come on stream to satisfy demand.”
Australia is a region of rapid growth, with cruise passengers increasing by 30 per cent in the past year to exceed more than half a million for the first time.
The International Cruise Council Australasia has predicted that there will be one million Australians who will take a cruise holiday in 2020.