CLIA: Goal of 10.5M cruisers within reach

The cruise industry is on track to meet, or possibly exceed, its target of carrying 10.5 million passengers in 2004, which would be a 33% jump over the number of people who cruised in 2003.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which collects passenger data for its 19 cruise line members, said nearly 2.9 million people cruised during the third quarter, a 9.7% increase over third-quarter 2003.

For the year to date, CLIA said nearly 8 million people worldwide cruised on CLIA lines, a 9.9% year-over-year increase.

CLIA said cruise lines average 109.4% occupancy figure in the third quarter was impressive.

A CLIA spokesman counted several reasons for the increase in passengers, including an increase in tonnage -- CLIA members available bed-days in the third quarter increased 11.3% to nearly 18 million -- and the resurgence of passengers interest in traveling farther afield.

In the third quarter, the category posting the biggest year-over-year increase was cruises lasting nine to 17 days. There was a 39.4% jump in passengers traveling on cruises of that length and a 54% increase in passengers cruising 18 days or more.

Meanwhile, the popularity of short cruises declined slightly; the number of people taking voyages of five days or fewer dropped 1%.

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