The UK cruise market grew again in 2010 and, in the Carnival UK Cruise Report 2011, Chief Executive Officer David Dingle insists that there should be no fears about over-capacity.
In fact, talk of market saturation is “frankly absurd”, he says, pointing out that Carnival UK brands met their sales growth and pricing targets in 2010 and are optimistic of doing the same this year.
This optimism is supported by the latest YouGov “Attitudes to Cruising” study* which showed that, amongst those cruising in the last 5 years, consumer awareness of one of those brands - Cunard Line - rose 15% over the past year, whilst there was also a 50% increase in the number of cruisers most likely to choose the brand. In fact, for recent (last 5 years) cruisers, Cunard’s three ships (Queen Mary 2, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth) are now the most recognised ships in the UK market.
The same study confirmed another Carnival UK brand, P&O Cruises, as the “most recalled” cruise brand in the UK and the study’s sample of P&O Cruises passengers rated it “significantly higher” than its key competitors for high quality food and service, value for money and as a company to trust.
While confident of continued sustainable growth in the UK cruise market, CEO Dingle also believes that new environmentally-based regulations will require all cruise lines to make changes in the way they operate.
To meet its own environmental targets, Carnival UK has already reduced fuel consumption by 5% in each of the last two years but higher fuel costs from 2015 created by air emissions regulations will ensure – he says – that the sector will have to modify itineraries to reduce cruise speeds, distances travelled and sometimes the number of ports visited, too.
As well as the environmental benefits this will produce, any such changes would be in line with evolving cruise passenger tastes.
As Dingle reports, the new larger ships being operated by brands such as P&O Cruises and Cunard Line are already considered destinations in their own right by passengers who enjoy days at sea as a time to take advantage of the much greater range of activities these multi-facility ships now offer. This trend is evidenced by an increase in demand for shorter cruises out of UK ports.
Dingle also points out that “people taking overseas cruises on UK-based ships produce significantly more benefits for the UK economy than overseas package holidays.”