The number of operational incidents on board cruise ships over the past five years has declined by 13%, according to a new study commissioned by Clia.

The study shows that while worldwide cruise capacity grew by more than 18% between 2009 and 2013, the number of operational incidents declined.

G.P Wild, a company which independently analyses cruise data, looked at incidents such as fires, technical breakdowns and collisions to gather its findings.

The data was analysed in relation to standard industry metrics including cruise capacity, the volume of passengers and miles travelled, and was put together using government data, trade publications and media reports.

Peter Wild, managing director of G.P Wild, said: “Even though there is already a low occurrence of operational incidents throughout the cruise industry, our findings show a clear decline – while capacity continues to grow.

“During this time of rapid growth in passenger volume, cruise ships not only maintained their exceptional safety record, but were also shown to be safer than most other forms of travel.”

The findings were collated in a report which highlights that ‘serious operational incidents are uncommon in the cruise industry’, decreasing by 13% from 2009 to 2013, despite a rise in passenger numbers.

The report also claims that cruise travel is safer than other common forms of leisure travel, with the lowest occurrence of operational-related fatalities. Among the six types of transport analysed – including rail and road travel – cruise ships had the lowest fatality rate, according to G.P Wild, with 0.08 fatalities per billion passenger miles.

Christine Duffy, president and chief executive of Clia, said: “Cruise ship safety and reliability have never been better. Clia and our member cruise lines never stop reviewing operational protocols and procedures to improve safety and technology.

“The well-being of passengers and crew always come first, and this study clearly shows that cruise lines’ continuous efforts to improve are succeeding.”