Cruise numbers add up to success

//Cruise numbers add up to success

The 600 travel agents who gathered in Southampton for the fifth annual UK Cruise Convention were no doubt delighted to receive confirmation of their important role in a continually growing business.
Brits took a record 1.62 million cruises in 2010, up 6 per cent on the previous year and more than double the number of 10 years ago according to the latest figures issued by the Passenger Shipping Association.
And despite cruise lines’ efforts to persuade customers to book online, four out of five cruises are booked through High Street agents.
Value for money is seen as one of the main reasons for cruising’s increasing popularity, with one in seven costing less than £500 per person and four out of every 10 cruises cost less than £1,000. In contrast, one in 50 passengers pays more than £5,000 for an ultra-luxury cruise.
River cruising is growing even faster – new luxury boats brought 80 per cent more passengers to the Douro in Portugal, and 24 per cent more to the Rhine.
PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “River cruising is in the middle of unprecedented expansion with new, larger and more sophisticated vessels.” Passengers, he added, “take time to enjoy the finer points of cuisine, panoramic landscapes and easy access to riverbank cities, and show their adventurous streak exploring rivers in the Far East and Russia.”
Other highlights from the report:
►UK ports attracted 32 per cent more embarking passengers from overseas, and there was an increase of 21 per cent in the number of visiting passengers – good news in particular for convention hosts Southampton, who have been confirmed as the busiest cruise port in northern Europe.
►The Mediterranean remains the most popular destination for UK passengers, attracting 697,000 in 2010. The number flying to join their ships in the sun rose by 7 per cent, and there was a huge increase of 41 per cent in the numbers sailing from the UK – helped no doubt by Royal Caribbean basing the 4,000-passenger Independence of the Seas in Southampton.
►The numbers cruising to the Canaries and in the Caribbean slipped back slightly, and there was only a tiny increase in cruises to the Baltic. The PSA see this as a blip, but the fact that NCL’s Baltic cruises switched from Dover to home-porting in Copenhagen will also have been a factor.
A red-faced Gibbons owned up to predicting that Libya was about to emerge as the next hot-spot for cruising; hot it maybe, but the country is unlikely to be welcoming travellers for some time.
The real growth is coming in the Arabian Gulf, with Brits flying out to Dubai in huge numbers this winter to sail on Costa Deliziosa and Luminosa, and Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas. Later this year those ships will be joined by MSC Lirica sailing from Abu Dhabi.
He might have got his Libya forecast wrong, but Gibbons has a safer bet with the prediction that the UK cruise market will hit 2 million by 2014.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:08+00:00 8 May 2011|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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