36 million cruise passengers expected globally in 2024: Report

by Staff Reporter
Cruise travel trends 

Cruise continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism. 36 million cruise passengers are expected globally in 2024, up by 14% in 2023, according to a report by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA)

The report also states that 86% of travellers who have ever been on a cruise plan to cruise again, 6% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Cruise travel trends

With the number of cruise passengers rising globally each year, some destinations are seeing a huge increase in demand. New data by Iglu Cruise has revealed the cruising destinations that have seen the biggest trends increase in 2023.

Dave Mills, Chief Commercial Officer at Iglu Cruise, has also offered some insight into why certain destinations have seen higher levels of interest. The data was collected by comparing demand in 2022 to 2023.


Percentage Increase (2022 -2023)

Starting price for 7 night cruise per person

North America









South America






Middle East & Indian Ocean









British Isles






Middle East (Top locations: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Muscat)

The Middle East saw demand rise by 90.6%. This could be partly due to the addition of Doha becoming a port of call or stop-over destination, according to Dave Mills.

The ancient city of Petra, Burj Khalifa, The Dubai Fountain and Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque Center are some attractions in the Middle East that were recently awarded The Travellers Choice Best of the Best on TripAdvisor in 2023.

The Red Dunes Exploration Tour in Dubai was also awarded fourth place out of 25 top tourist activities worldwide.

North America (Top locations: Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Orlando)

Demand in North America has skyrocketed in 2023, up 592% compared to 2022.

Dave Mills, Chief Commercial Officer said: “We’ve seen some very exciting new ships launched in 2023 such as Disney Wish, sailing from popular US ports such as Miami and Orlando. This could have been attributed to the huge increase in demand for cruises in North America.”

Locations such as Canada and Alaska have also seen an increase in demand, according to Google Trends Data. When comparing year on year, there is a 30 per cent increase in the term “cruise Canada”, while “cruise Alaska” is up by 17.

Miami, Florida remains the busiest cruise port in the world, with over five million visitors each year, including embarking, disembarking and port calls (CLIA). Port Canaveral, Florida is the second most visited port worldwide, with over 4.3 million visitors each year, and Cozumel, Mexico is third with over 3.8 million.

Africa (Top locations: Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban)

Demand for cruising in Africa has increased by 253% compared to 2022. Google Trends data also shows an 80 per cent increase in the term “cruise Africa” in the last year.

Dave said: “We’ve seen a lot more immersive tours in Africa, particularly in South Africa. Tours of the Stellenboch Wine region, and of course, safaris have been popular bolt-ons.”

Lonely Planet also recently named South Africa as one of the best countries to visit in 2024 in their Best in Travel Report, citing Kruger National Park, where visitors can witness the Big 5, as the highlight. Morocco was also named on the list, with the Erk Chebbi dunes and Mount Jebel Toubkal, the tallest mountain in North Africa, named as some of the best attractions.

Arctic (Top locations: Alesund, Bergen, Tromso)

Arctic cruising trends increased by 201.3% in 2023. The Arctic Circle and specifically The Northern Lights have been steadily building for years, according to Dave Mills, with travellers wanting to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. He said: “We expect to see Arctic cruises continue in popularity, particularly with our dedicated Star Gazing cruises.”

Norway, Iceland and Greenland are some of the destinations that have seen demand increase. Record-breaking temperatures across southern Europe during the summer months could be a reason why we are seeing demand increase in cooler climates.

Dave added: “We’re seeing more and more travellers seeking out cooler destinations during summer to escape the intense heat in destinations such as the Mediterranean, a trend which we think will continue to rise going into 2024”.

South America (Top locations: Puerto Ayora, Baltra, Quito)

South America saw demand rise by 149.1% in 2023 compared to 2022, as well as a 32% increase in the term “South American cruise” on Google Trends.

Bucket list destinations such as the Galapagos Islands and Iguazu Falls could be the reason for this increase, according to Dave Mills.

He said: “A continent of many contrasts, South America is an attractive destination for those searching for adventure. Rugged mountains, remote rainforests, majestic waterfalls and beautiful beaches can be found in different parts of the region. The Amazon River, Christ the Redeemer and Machu Picchu are some of the world-famous tourist destinations to see and add to the bucket list.”

Asia (Top locations: Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Hong Kong)

Demand in Asia increased by 98.5% in 2023, with an 80% increase in the term on Google Trends.

Dave Mills said: “Of all the long haul destinations, it was the Far East – specifically our Japan intensive cruises and tours which were the fastest to fill. Mount Fiji and Tokyo city tours are big sellers.

“Asia also offers so much diversity in terms of landscapes and culture. Destinations in Thailand, China, Singapore, Japan and Malaysia have bewildered visitors for years, with more tourists looking to see what Asia has to offer. Energetic cities mixed with beautiful landscapes and tropical climates are very attractive to travellers.”

Almost four million (3.9) cruise passengers visit Asia in 2022, according to the Cruise Line International Association, with numbers expected to increase.

Caribbean (Top locations: Cozumel, Philipsburg, Charlotte Amalie)

Caribbean cruising trends increased by 58.8% and demand for Transatlantic cruises increased by 45.9%.

Dave Mills said: “The increase in demand in the Caribbean can be attributed to P&O Arvia, a fantastic new ship, with superb entertainment and culinary focus, which is a top seller. The signature Tidal Rum on Arvia also comes highly recommended!”

The Caribbean remains the top destination for cruise visitors, according to the State of the Cruise Industry Report by CLIA, with over 15 million visitors in 2022. Nassau, the capital of The Bahamas is also the fifth most visited port worldwide, with over 3.3 million visitors.

Europe (Top locations: Southampton, Barcelona, Lisbon)

Demand for cruises in Europe has increased by 32.9%. Dave Mills said: “Closer to home, many cruise lines have dedicated some of their best ships to serve the European markets.  Anthem of the Seas from Southampton, Sky Princess, P&O Iona and MSC Virtuosa have all helped swell booking numbers in Europe.”

Northern Europe is the second-most visited location for cruise travellers, according to CLIA, with the Eastern Mediterranean in sixth place.

Barcelona is also the seventh most visited port in the world, and the first most visited in Europe, with over 2.5 million visitors each year. Southampton is the ninth most visited port in the world, with over 2 million yearly visitors.

British Isles (Top locations: Southampton, Belfast, Kirkwall)

Cruising trends in the British Isles have increased by 33.3% in 2023.

Dave Mills said: “We see the same demand in Europe reflected on the British Isles. We have found the demand for UK coastal cruises which peaked out of necessity in 2021 has maintained year after year since.”

Data from GOV UK suggests that over two million cruise passengers visit the British Isles every year, with 89% of those passing through Southampton. Since the pandemic, there has also been an increase in demand for no-fly cruises.

Other ports in the British Isles include Belfast, Kirkwall, Invergordan and Lerwick.


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