Skift Take

The negatives of the cruise industry get so much attention that it's easy to forget that cruising contributes to many regional economies around the country.

For all the talk about cruise lines doing anything to turn a profit, it’s easy to forget that cruise lines spend billions in the U.S. economy to support their operations.

A new report shows the industry’s contribution to the U.S. economy is growing as a result of increased spending.

Direct and indirect cruise-related spending in the U.S. rose to a new high of $21 billion in 2014, according to a report conducted by Business Research & Economic Advisors for CLIA.

The number of total cruise passengers sourced from the U.S. also reached a record high of 11.33 million, recording the highest year-over-year growth since 2010.

“The global cruise industry is a critical contributor to the U.S. economy and we see evidence of the industry’s positive effect spreading across the country,” said Cindy D’Aoust, CLIA’s acting CEO, in a statement.

Here are four takeaways from the report.

1. Cruise lines, and cruisers, spend a lot of money

Breaking down cruise passenger spend shows that cruisers spend an average of $258.45 per overnight stay during their cruise and $31.16 at their port of call for parking, local transit and food.

While the industry’s overall economic impact is suggest to be more than $20 billion, actual cruise-related expenditures only totaled $10.75 billion when excluding money spent by cruisers on air, cruise line employee wages, travel agent commissions and port fees.

Also, 48 percent of cruisers arrive at their port of embarkation via air, which accounts for 21 percent of total cruise industry spending.

The report estimates that cruise lines spent $2.06 billion on travel agent commissions in 2014 and a combined $3.42 billion on port services and U.S.-resident employee wages.

2. Florida and California benefit the most from cruising

Florida, California, Texas, New York and Alaska represent the states which receive the most spending from the cruise industry.

Florida is the main beneficiary of cruise line spending, accounting for 62 percent of all cruise embarkations in the U.S. California represents the fast growing state for cruising, a 49 percent increase in 2014 due to growth in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

Port of Miami, Port Everglades and Port Canaveral are by far the most active cruise ports in the country. Galveston, New York and New Orleans are also popular, but would combine to provide as many embarkations as a single aforementioned Florida port.

San Diego, Boston, New York and Seattle were the only U.S. cities to see a decrease in total embarkations in 2014.

3. Most cruisers are coming from the Southeast U.S.

About two-in-five U.S. cruise passengers come from the east coast coastal states south of New Jersey, a slight increase in sourcing from that region over the past five years.

Five regions are facing a decline in cruisers: the Middle Atlantic, West North Central and Puerto Rico. The Middle Atlantic, which is comprised of New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, sourced 56,000 less cruisers in 2014 than in 2010.

4. U.S. cruisers are becoming less important to the global cruise industry

The research also reflects the global trends that will serve to eventually marginalize North America as a cruise source market. U.S. cruisers are slowly coming to account for less of the global cruise industry than ever before.

11.33 million cruise passengers were sourced from the U.S. in 2014, and a total of 11.06 million cruisers embarked on a cruise in the U.S. CLIA’s data projects that 22.1 million people cruised globally in 2014. This means U.S. cruisers accounted for 51 percent of global cruisers.

In 2009, 9.5 million Americans cruised and 17.8 people cruised globally; U.S. cruisers accounted for 53 percent of the global industry.

“We’ve enjoyed progressive growth over the last 30 years, driven initially by demand from North America, which expanded to Europe, Australia and now Asia,” said D’Aoust. “As a result, the cruise industry today impacts the global economy, generating jobs, income and business growth in all regions of the world.”


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Tags: clia

Photo credit: Cruise ships leaving Port of Miami. Adventures of KM&G-Morris / Flickr

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