Cruising is on the upswing: bigger ships, new destinations, more deals, a wider variety of choices and more passengers. 2010 is expected be a record year for the U.K. cruise market, with more British holidaymakers than ever before taking to the seas, according to the popular cruise reviews and news site, CruiseCritic.co.uk.
Unlike many other holiday sectors, cruise travel weathered the recession well. According to the Passenger Shipping Association, 1.5 million people in Britain took cruises in 2008 and, despite the tough economy, similar figures are expected for 2009. 2010, however, will see a host of new ships serving the U.K. and European markets, increasing capacity and stimulating continued growth over the next 12 months.
So, what does next year hold for the U.K. cruise market? CruiseCritic.co.uk has consulted its crystal ball—and team of cruise experts—to offer this look at U.K. cruise trends for 2010.
“In short, British holidaymakers have discovered cruising, and they’re hooked,” explains Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief for CruiseCritic.co.uk. “It’s hard to resist a ‘resort’ that floats to the next port of call while you sit by the pool. It’s the ultimate for relaxing and sightseeing. Factor in the tremendous deals we’re currently seeing, the vast range of activities available onboard, plus the easy-to-budget inclusive pricing—and it’s no wonder cruise travel is on the up.”
“2010 will offer British travellers a wider choice of ships, destinations, itineraries, deals and cruise styles than ever before,” continued Spencer Brown. “You really need to do your homework beforehand and find the cruise line and ship that offer the type of holiday you want—formal or informal, family or romantic, relaxing or action-packed. And, with the completion of the engineering marvel that is the mammoth, 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas later this year, we’re entering a whole new phase of cruising.”
CruiseCritic.co.uk 2010 UK Cruise Trends:
· Cruising Will be BIG in 2010—Royal Caribbean’s Oasis of the Seas sweeps onto the scene to offer the biggest and greatest of everything (almost) at sea. Although the ship will not sail out of the U.K., fly-cruise deals to Florida will be available for those eager to experience the first carousel at sea, explore neighborhoods like The Boardwalk and Central Park, shop and sup along the expansive Royal Promenade mall and enjoy a cocktail in the first levitating bar on a cruise ship. Oasis, which debuts in November 2009, will not be the only exciting ship to try in the coming year. We’re also excited about P&O’s Azura (April), NCL’s Epic (July) and Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth (late 2010).
· Deals Will Continue, But…—The deals will continue, but the exceptional offers of recent months will eventually dry up as the economy improves, so holidaymakers are advised to book when they see a deal, rather than wait. The deals on offer will include high-end luxury cruises to exotic locations, as well as family deals for the big, fun ships. Refurbishments and upgrades will also add to the value of cruises, with new facilities and improved features on offer.
· More Celebs Will Take to the Sea—New Kids On The Block, Derren Brown and John Cleese all have at least one thing in common—they have all appeared, or are due to appear, onboard a cruise ship this year. Theme cruises, often hosted by celebrity special guests, are immensely popular and draw a large number of first-time cruisers. 2010 sees a “Twilight” cruise for fans of the vampire flick, Terry Wogan will host a cruise to aid Children in Need, and Kid Rock will be participating in his own cruise.
· Cruising Will be Healthier—Cruise lines have made huge steps in shaking off the old image of overindulgence and now offer excellent fitness studios, spas and healthy, alternative dining options. Running tracks, lap pools, climbing walls and tennis courts can all be found, and there’s a move toward prohibiting smoking onboard many vessels.
· River Cruising Comes of Age—Several new boats and refurbishments, as well as an increase in capacity and number of destinations, are revolutionizing river cruising in Europe and Asia and on Egypt’s Nile. No longer something you would ever call a “boat trip,” river cruising now offers more choice, more comfortable accommodations and, depending on the ship, fine dining, spa offerings and even swimming pools. River cruising provides a multi-stop tour without the need to check in to a new hotel every night, and inclusive pricing—which covers meals, transportation, accommodations and, typically, excursions—can be an excellent value.
· Extensive Choice of Cruises—From tropical beaches, old-world Europe and Alaskan glaciers to the Far East or Down Under, there’s something for every taste. Fly to a warm destination for a Caribbean cruise, or drive to your local port to tour the Med. Take the family on an activity-filled fun ship, or relax on an upscale, high-end vessel for a more sedate experience. There will be plenty to choose from, and cruisers are advised to do their homework and take advantage of independent cruise sites, such as CruiseCritic.co.uk, which help cruisers weigh their options.
· Cruisers Will Be…Young, Old, Couples, Families, Singles, New Cruisers, Well-traveled Sea Dogs—The wide range of options offers something for everyone, leading to greater diversity onboard.