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Cruising has become a major part of the tourism industry, with millions of passengers each year. The industry's rapid growth has seen nine or more newly built ships catering to a North American clientele added every year since 2001, as well as others servicing European clientele. Smaller markets such as the Asia-Pacific region are generally serviced by older tonnage displaced by new ships introduced into the high growth areas.
Cruise ships operate mostly on routes that return passengers to their originating port. In contrast, dedicated transport oriented ocean liners do "line voyages" and typically transport passengers from one point to another, rather than on round trips. Some cruise ships also engage in longer trips which may not lead back to the same port for many months (longer round trips).