The North American cruise passenger capacity is set to grow 18 percent to 2020, at an average annual rate of approximately 2.6 percent from the start of 2013 to 2020, according to the 2013 Cruise Industry News Annual Report.
After a modest capacity increase of only 0.6 percent this year, 2014 will see a 2.7 percent increase and 2015 spikes at 4.9 percent, followed by 3.9 percent in 2016, 3.8 percent in 2017, 1.4 percent in 2018 and 1.0 percent in 2019.
Over the previous eight-year period, from 2005 to 2012, capacity increased by 22 percent, and the growth pace going forward is likely to pick up, based on Carnival Corporation’s stated intention to build two to three ships per year, thus adding capacity increases. At this point, Carnival has no ships on order beyond 2016.
Royal Caribbean has an Oasis-class ship on order for 2016 delivery and an option for 2018. More Sunshine-class ships are rumored in addition to the two currently on order, however.
The balance of the growth is driven by Norwegian Cruise Line, with deliveries this year, plus 2014 and 2015, and an option for 2017.
Carnival, Royal and Norwegian control nearly 90 percent of the North American cruise industry.
In North America Carnival brands are set to grow their passenger capacity a total of 8.5 percent by 2020, Royal Caribbean, 19.8 percent, and Norwegian, 58 percent.
Retirements are unlikely to mitigate the growth pace as the cruise lines have invested significantly in revitalizing older ships. Transfers to European sister brands are also unlikely because of these companies’ own building programs and the economic downturn throughout most of Europe.
The swing factor could possibly be Asia, if demand picks up. Australia and South America have reached maturation points.
This year, the North American cruise fleet will be able to carry 12.3 million passengers (double occupancy) against a CLIA forecast that 11.8 million American are expected to cruise this year, compared to 11.7 million last year.
By 2020, the North American cruise fleet will be able to carry 14.4 million passengers, according to Cruise Industry News’ estimates, based on current ship orders.