The cruise ship interiors industry is growing. The global fleet currently numbers 430 ships, with a further 11 ships due to be delivered in 2024 alone. Cruise lines are now not only searching for innovative suppliers to help stay ahead of the competition on their newbuilds but to also reinvigorate their ever-growing stock of older tonnage. New cruise lines are launching using refurbished second-hand ships, increasing the pool of buyers in addition to the number of ships sailing.

Expanding into the cruise ship interiors design market can be a smart decision for furnishing, materials, lighting, wall coverings, flooring and attraction companies. But, once you’ve taken that step, how do you start to sell products to cruise lines? And, one of the most important questions, how do you target your buyers?

The first step to finding your way in the cruise interiors industry is identifying your clients and their demographic among the diverse cruise interiors market. When we interviewed cruise ship interiors suppliers, they identified their largest challenge as finding the right person to talk to about their products. They needed to know what job titles to target.

Know your cruise brands

A top tip for understanding buyer job titles is to determine the structure of cruise corporations. These can seem complicated to someone new to the cruise industry. Some cruise lines, such as MSC and Viking Cruises, are privately owned and operated. Others, such as Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania Cruises, are part of a larger cruise corporation. In this case that would be Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, which in addition to those two cruise lines owns and operates Norwegian Cruise Line.

Other large cruise corporations include Carnival Corporation, which is the industry’s largest, and Royal Caribbean Group. Each cruise line manages its design operations differently. Some cruise lines contain large in-house design, procurement and operational teams. Other cruise lines will have design projects fed through their owner corporation or outsourced in large parts to external companies, including design studios and turnkey firms. This can mean suppliers looking to sell products to cruise lines need to consider that the contact they need to reach will not necessarily have the name of the cruise line in their job title. 

So, who are the major players in the cruise ship industry? Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Line are currently tied for the largest cruise line, each boasting a fleet of 26 ships as of January 2024. Carnival Cruise Line is scheduled to swell their fleet in 2024 with one refurbished ship courtesy of sister brand Costa Cruises. Meanwhile Royal Caribbean has an additional 4 newbuild ships on order. Carnival Corporation owns nine cruise lines, dominating the ocean market. Royal Caribbean Group owns three cruise lines and has a major stake in three other cruise lines in partnership with TUI Group. Although their business is predominantly focused on the ocean market, they also have ventures in the expedition and ultra-luxury markets.

Deconstructing buyer job titles

Suppliers who want to develop and maintain an advantage in the cruise ship interiors industry do their research about the relationships between the owner, sister and subsidiary cruise lines. Savvy sales people understand that the buyer they meet at Cruise Ship Interiors Design Expo or at a CSI+ networking event may be working on a project for a subsidiary cruise line but whose job title only contains the name of the parent corporation. They may even be looking to purchase products for cruise lines across the entire brand.

To understand the major ocean, river and expedition cruise ship operators in the USA, Europe and Asia, members can now download our A-Z Cruise Lines document. Here you’ll find a comprehensive list of the cruise lines in operation, their parent companies, the country where they are based and the size of their fleet.

Use this guide to hone your knowledge of the cruise industry.

The A-Z Cruise Lines document is available free of charge for CSI Plus Members. Simply log in and head to the Knowledge Centre.