Latest UK cruise industry figures released by the Passenger Shipping Association at World Travel Market estimate that 1.72m Brits will take an ocean cruise this year, 20,000 passengers more than the 1.7m carried in 2011.
This has been achieved despite a challenging year for the industry following the January Concordia incident, and a protracted subdued UK economic climate for consumers that has seen market falls in many other sectors of the holiday industry.
Some eight out of ten UK cruise sales come through Britain’s travel agents, spearheaded by those specially trained to advise on cruise options through the Association of Cruise Experts.
As a sign of continued confidence, nearly $5 billion has been invested globally by the industry in six major new cruise ships launched this year, and a further $3.2billion will be spent on six more ships scheduled to enter service next year.
Long term orders stretch out at an even higher level to 2015, representing more than $12bn of investment in new ships over the next three years alone.
For 2013, the PSA is predicting a growth of more than two per cent in UK cruises to 1.76m passengers, on the back of continued investment in new and refurbished cruise ships, a fiercely competitive market, and the continued popularity of ex-UK port cruises.
“There is no doubt that the cruise industry faced a unique set of challenges this year;” said PSA director William Gibbons, “ but our UK figures show that the cruise sector has outperformed the rest of the holiday sector.
“The sheer diversity of cruises offered by our 41 members, coupled with unrivalled value for money has helped to attract the ‘new to cruise customer’, key to boosting growth within our sector.
“The undiminished investment in new ships and product innovation is also encouraging with six new cruise ships commissioned in 2012, and six more are scheduled for launch in each of the next three years.
“There is no doubt that value will still be an absolute priority for UK holiday makers in 2013 and a cruise is one of the best ways to have a unique experience whatever your holiday budget.”