More people than ever before chose a cruise holiday last year –  with some 28.5 million people taking to the seas and rivers.

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) revealed a 6.7% increase in 2018 – as a result, the organisation representing cruise lines has revised its forecast for this year to an astonishing  30 million passengers.

Some 5.7 million sailed in the Asia Pacific region – where this week Princess Cruises and Royal Caribbean were both offering their biggest ever number of cabins for the 2020/21 season.

Travel agents reported strong interest.  Phil Hoffman Travel reported booking 225 Princess passengers within the first 48 hours of going on sale  – 174 of these on Adelaide homeported cruises.

Marketing manager Bianca Hoffman told Cruise Passenger the results showed “enticing cruise itineraries are now selling out in advance and cruising ex Adelaide has become extremely popular. Consumers are now aware that if you want the best cabin location, choice and best price, it is best to book early.”

The new international figures were revealed at the State of Global Cruise Industry Keynote address at the Seatrade Cruise Global’s annual conference held in Miami, Florida early this week.

Delegates also heard of the hard work being done to manage environmental and overtourism concerns, including talks with port authorities about staggering ship calls and a range of new measures to make cruise ships cruise more efficiently.

Kelly Craighead, the new president and CEO of CLIA shares that the Asia-Pacific region accounted for 20 per cent of cruisers globally, a 3.9% growth from last year.

In addition, the numbers show that shorter cruises are becoming increasingly popular.

Cruisers are choosing to sail on 7-day itineraries on average, with three and seven-day itineraries growing in popularity by 10 and nine per cent respectively.

CLIA 2018 year in reviewFor destinations, Alaska remains the top emerging place to visit. The area saw a 13 per cent increase in cruise passenger arrivals in 2018, accounting for more than a million passengers.

It is the second year in a row where double-digit growth is recorded in Alaska. A 17 per cent increase in passengers was recorded in 2017.

The Mediterranean saw more than four million cruise passengers (up 8 per cent), the Caribbean received 11.3 million cruise passengers (up 6 per cent) and Asia had 4.2 million cruise passengers (up 5 per cent).

So who will be jumping on board in 2019? It is revealed that the new average age of cruisers is 47 years old – the youngest ever.

Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corporation, noted at the conference that cruising interest is strong among Millennials in search of adventure but the Baby Boomers remains the largest demographic with time and money to cruise.

Moving forward, the number of retirees is expected to double in the next 10 years, he added.