Ten new ships are slated to be introduced in 2004, which will boost industry capacity by more than one million new passengers, according to estimates by Cruise Industry News (CIN). This translates into a 12 percent passenger capacity increase over 2003, which was up about seven percent over 2002.

The world fleet of some 250 ships will be able to carry nearly 13 million passengers worldwide in 2004.

Largest Sailing Regions

Nearly 90 percent of the worldwide cruise capacity will be deployed in six regions in 2004:

The Caribbean/Bahamas commands 50 percent of all the cruise capacity in 2004, up five percent from 2003.

The second largest sailing region is the Mediterranean, with 15 percent of the total capacity, down six percent from 2003.

Alaska has the third largest deployment with a 6.7 percent share of the capacity, up seven percent over 2003.

The Mexican Riviera has become the fourth most popular destination, with 6.6 percent of the capacity in 2004, up 41 percent, compared to 2003, when the west coast of Mexico was ranked sixth.

Western and Northern Europe will see five percent of the fleet capacity deployed in their waters this summer, up 20 percent over last year.

Five percent of the worldwide capacity is deployed in the Asia/Pacific region in 2004, down 15 percent from 2003.

After the six major sailing regions, other major areas include Hawaii, with a 1.9 percent market share, up 14 percent over 2003; Bermuda, with 1.8 percent and no change; and the East Coast of North America, which will also see a substantial increase in 2004, up 32 percent over 2003, for a 1.6 percent market share.

The trans-Atlantic market will also see a boost, up 17 percent over 2003, mostly due to the added capacity of the QM2. But only 1.3 percent of the worldwide cruise capacity will sail trans-Atlantic in 2004.

Brand Development

Seven cruise brands will be able to carry about nine million passengers, or more than 65 percent of the worldwide passenger capacity.

Carnival Cruise Lines will be able to carry approximately 2.7 million passengers in 2004, up five percent over 2003, according to CIN. That means two out of 10 cruise passengers worldwide will sail on a Carnival ship on a worldwide basis, and three out of every 10 in North America.

Royal Caribbean International will be able to carry an estimated 2.4 million passengers, up 14 percent over 2003; Princess Cruises, 1.1 million, up 33 percent over last year; Norwegian Cruise Line, 750,000, down 11 percent over last year; Holland America Line, 690,000, up 15 percent; Celebrity Cruises, 637,000, down four percent due to deployment changes; and Costa Crociere, 625,000, up 20 percent over 2003.

The three largest cruise companies, Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean Cruises and the Star Group (Norwegian Cruise Line) will continue to control about 80 percent of the worldwide cruise market with 17 brands. - Oivind Mathisen - Nick Young also contributed to this article.

Further details and a break-down of market growth trends and growth by cruise brand to 2007 are presented in the 2004 Cruise Industry News Annual.

Excerpt from the Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2004