NEW YORK, Jan. 17 /PRNewswire/ -- The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is forecasting a year of formidable growth, with 12.62 million cruise passengers predicted to set sail in 2007, an increase of approximately one half-million guests over 2006. The forecasted 500,000- passenger increase represents a 4.1 percent year-over-year growth commensurate with the planned net increase in 2007 CLIA-member line capacity. The 2007 projections are new statistics released today at a press conference by CLIA (http://www.cruising.org), the premier marketing organization for 21 member cruise lines representing more than 97 percent of the North American cruise capacity, as well as 16,500 travel agency members. Of the 12.62 million passengers projected to cruise in 2007, more than 10.6 million are expected to originate from North America. "The state of the industry is very, very strong, with CLIA cruise lines stepping up to the plate each and every year with innovative new offerings that continue to bolster cruise sales," said Dan Hanrahan, CLIA's new marketing committee chairman and the president of Celebrity Cruises. "Today's CLIA-member cruise ships offer exceptional value and unrivaled convenience -- and visit destinations across the globe." Also newly released today are third quarter 2006 results and fourth quarter estimates, which revealed that CLIA-member cruise lines carried 12.12 million worldwide passengers last year, an 8.4 percent increase over the 11.18 million carried in 2005. CLIA-member lines carried 10.18 million North Americans in 2006 compared with 9.67 million in 2005, and also maintained their high utilization rates, posting a collective occupancy factor of 104 percent in 2006. Bolstering the influx of travelers choosing to cruise in 2007 is the introduction of 12 new ships -- totaling 22,039 beds -- that offer vacationers innovative onboard facilities and amenities, new worldwide itineraries and ports, and outstanding experiential enrichment programs that appeal to an ever-burgeoning and diverse portfolio of travelers. All tolled, the increase in ship capacity translated to a steady growth in available berths, from 227,837 in 2005 to 246,759 in 2006. CLIA member lines have invested more than $15 billion in 30 new vessels that will enter service between 2007 and the end of 2010. This translates into 73,562 more beds -- a 29.8 percent increase from 2006. Further evidence that supports a robust 2007 is positive feedback from CLIA-member travel agents, who report a strong start to the 2007 Wave Season, the January through March period that traditionally produces the heaviest cruise booking activity of the year. CLIA member lines are kicking off 2007 with a host of booking incentives and promotions, including stateroom upgrades, "kids sail free" programs, early booking savings, upgrades from Economy to Business Class air, shipboard credits and cruise giveaways. "Booking early, during Wave Season, has become increasingly important as CLIA ships begin to fill up further in advance each year," said Terry L. Dale, president and CEO of CLIA. "Not only are destinations like Europe and Alaska flourishing, but CLIA travel agents are reporting early booking sales to such regions as Asia, South America and the South Pacific, which are experiencing increased demand." CLIA travel professionals are considered the consumer's very best resource when planning a cruise vacation. To locate an agency, consumers should use the travel agent locator on CLIA's Web site at http://www.cruising.org. About CLIA The nonprofit Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) is North America's largest cruise industry organization. CLIA represents the interests of 21 member lines and participates in the regulatory and policy development process while supporting measures that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise vacations and counts as members 16,500 travel agencies. For more information on CLIA, the cruise industry, and CLIA-member cruise lines and travel agencies, visit http://www.cruising.org.
SOURCE Cruise Lines International Association