Outbound Japan: cruise market

Wednesday 12, June 2013


Outbound Japan: cruise market


Japanese consumers have further embraced overseas cruises in a big way with the number in 2012 surging to 120,000 travelers, the highest tally not seen since 2000 when it reached 130,500, thanks to the 60.36 percent rise in cruise passengers heading to Asia.


Combined with the 96,400 Japanese passengers on domestic cruises, the total cruise population in 2012 reached 216,700, the second-highest count after the record of 225,000 in 1995.


The high figure last year paves the way for this year, with the inauguration of cruises by luxury liner Princess Cruises' 77-ton Sun Princess, which in May began its Japan Home Port program. It will visit 19 Japanese ports in Japan during the year, with itineraries that include ports in South Korea, Taiwan and Russia. In 2014, the liner will bring the 116-ton Diamond Princess -- built in 2004 by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Nagasaki -- as its second ship in the Japanese market.


The cruise industry has been on a voyage toward recovery since the Lehman Brothers collapse in 2008, affecting demand for both air and cruise outbound travel.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLITT) said that Asia rose in share from 26.57% to 36.75% in 2012, the highest ever, boasting 44,100 Japanese cruise passengers. Enthusiasts on cruises to Oceania-Micronesia generated a 44.23% jump to 7,500, generating a 6.3% market share, also the highest since 2007 when the count rose to 10,900.


While the number of those heading to Northern Europe, including the Baltic Sea reached 27,100, off 9.66% from a year ago, those cruising to other European ports climbed some 175%, giving Europe-Baltic Sea a 22.58% market share.


Alaska, the Caribbean Sea, the Aegean Sea and the Black Sea combined make up the largest global cruise areas but in Japan they together account for only 20.30% of the total number of Japanese cruise passengers, reflecting the gap in interests between Japanese and their global counterparts.


Around-the-world cruises, drawing mostly seniors and high-end travelers, jumped 22.86% last year to 4,300, holding a market share of 3.6%. It's the highest count since the 5,300 total in 2007.


Of all the cruise travelers, some 96.51% (116,100) went on a voyage for leisure (up 17.51% from 2011), with 2.2% (2,700) boarding a cruise liner to participate in seminars organized by companies. This trend for on-board seminars has dropped off considerably compared to the early 2000s when the numbers averaged 3,500 and above.


Meanwhile, cruises lasting between 5 and 7 days commanded the biggest share of passengers (42.39%) to 51,000, surging 58% from 2011. It is also ahead 96.15% from the 2010 tally, thanks to the increase in popularity of fly-and-cruise packages.


While the number of cruise passengers is the second highest in history, the count of passenger nights (total nights spent by passengers) jumped 30.95% to 1,119,463, breaking the previous record of 1,027,020 set in 2007, indicating that Japanese are spending longer on cruises. The average stay per passenger is 9.1 nights, up from the 8.6 nights in 2011.



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