Cruise Industry Overview

In 2020, COVID changed the lives of everyone in the world. The small countries and islands within the Caribbean and global cruise ship markets were gravely impacted. Imagine living in an economy that relies on tourism for more than 50% of its GDP, and tourism entirely disappears in a matter of weeks. Cruise ships stopped sailing, retail stores closed, economies came to a halt and millions of jobs were lost. 

At the time of writing this post in October of 2021, cruise ships have started sailing again with limited itineraries. Within the next 6-12 months, many are expecting a full return.

Right now there are more opportunities to secure in-port premier retail locations than there have been in 50 years. 

Consider the pre-pandemic cruise ship numbers. More than 27 million passengers cruised somewhere in the world in 2019, the majority of cruises originating in North America. Cruise passenger growth continues was strong, increasing by more than 10% from the previous year.


(Grand Cayman on a 6 ship day) 

There are currently more than 400 cruise ships in the world with more than 500,000 beds. The cruise industry will continue to grow. In fact, all major cruise lines are betting on continued growth. As of early last year, more than 50 new cruise ships are on order with an investment cost of more than $51billion. Cruise lines are investing heavily in the future of this industry. 

(Cruise Passengers at Margaritaville in Grand Turk)

 With the introduction of 50 new ships and $51billion in capital investments going into the cruise ship market, a opportunistic retail organization can draw two conclusions:

  1. The addition of each new ship will bring an average of 2,550 new passengers to each retail store located in a visited port each day.
  2. The success of Royal Caribbean, Carnival, Princess, Disney Cruises and other major lines all hinge on their ability to fill the ships with passengers and set sail each week. They are betting $50billion on their ability to do so over the next decade. They will ensure that the ships are filled, providing in-port retailers with a steady flow of traffic for years to come.



(Margaritaville in Fallmouth, Jamaica) 

Cruise passengers are on the trip of a lifetime and their shopping psyche is different than a typical vacationer. An average cruise passenger will spend $1,700 per person per week while an average hotel-goer will spend $1,300 per person per week. (Passengers on luxury lines spend, on average, $3,200 per person per week.) If you are marketed well on the cruise lines and if your product is priced right with high perceived quality, then your stores are positioned to succeed.

Contact us today and we can help you build your cruise-market expansion plan.