Global ports operator lifts forecasts on surging cruise demand

High demand for cruises has enabled the world’s largest private ports operator to upgrade its annual passenger forecasts.

Global Ports Holding (GPH) said that strong trading meant that 12.5 million passengers are expected across its portfolio in the year to March, 2024, against an initial expectation of 11.8 million.

The company said: “In calendar year 2024 available berths across the global cruise fleet are expected to reach all-time highs, propelling the industry to exciting new record highs. 

“The major cruise lines have reported strong booking trends for summer 2024 and they see no signs of demand slowing.”

The long-term outlook for the cruise industry also remains positive.

“Long-established demand and supply trends have re-established themselves as key drivers of growth in the industry, with passenger volumes by the end of 2027 expected to be 45% higher than pre-Covid levels,” GPH added.

“This strong level of industry growth means there is a need for significant levels of investment in cruise port infrastructure in order to meet the needs of both the growing number of cruise ships and the growing size of cruise ships as well as the increased demand from passengers for an improved cruise port experience.

“This growth is creating exciting opportunities for cruise ports but also presents potential risks, as cruise ports will face substantial challenges to meet the demands and needs of the evolving industry. 

“GPH’s significant experience and know-how in port and destination development and global cruise port operations, honed from our experience worldwide, means we are well-positioned to play a primary role in both the investment and industry growth in the years ahead.”

The projections came as the company reported a 54% rise in cruise passenger volumes for the half-year to September 30 as cruise calls increases 15% year-on-year.

This drove a 50% increase in first half revenue to $95.9 million with adjusted profits up by 59% to $64.1 million.

GPH said: “The strong trading experienced in the first quarter to 30 June 2023, continued throughout the second quarter of our fiscal year. 

“Our cruise ports, after a relatively quiet summer 2022, experienced a significant pick-up in activity throughout the summer 2023 cruise season, which can be seen in the particularly strong growth rates in passenger, revenue and EBITDA in our west Med & Atlantic and central Med regions during the first half.”

The company has increased its ownership of cruise ports in Barcelona, Malaga, Lisbon and Singapore.

Interim financial results for the six months to September 30 are due to be released in mid-December.

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