Worldwide cruise industry - additional information
The history of the leisure cruise industry begins in the first half of the 19th century, when the shipping line Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company, operating between England and the Iberian Peninsula, first started to accommodate passengers. Although it has gone through many changes over the decades, the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company is still in existence today under the name P&O Cruises. It is owned by Carnival Corporation, the biggest cruise company in the world.
Most cruise ships are set up like floating hotels, offering accommodation, dining and entertainment on board. Some of the facilities offered by cruise ships are spas, beauty salons, libraries, theaters for musical shows, pools, golf or basketball courts and a selection of bars, restaurants and shops.
In 2015, the number of passengers taking a cruise vacation was expected to rise to 23 million passengers, which in turn was expected to generate almost 40 billion U.S. dollars in revenue for cruise companies worldwide. The cruise industry has been growing steadily in the past years and is becoming a substantial part of the tourism industry in general. New ships are built every year and more and more companies offer personalized services and amenities catering to specific target groups, such as cruises especially tailored and advertised for seniors or for gay and lesbian travelers and even kosher cruise ships for Jewish vacationers. A number of 178 ships are in operation in the North American cruising industry and American passengers account for more than half of the total number of guests on cruise ships every year.