The UK ocean cruise market continues to buck the trend with a record number of passengers predicted for 2011. Figures released this week show an estimated 1.77 million passengers will take a cruise holiday next year, an increase of eight per cent on this year’s figure of 1.64 million passengers.
For the first time, the number of UK fly cruise passengers is set to exceed one million with a 2011 forecast of 1,060,000, up 75,000 on this year’s figure. The number of British passengers joining their ship in a UK port next year is also expected to rise by 55,000 to 710,000.
William Gibbons of the Passenger Shipping Association said next year’s additional 130,000 cruise passengers reflects strong performances from the major UK cruise lines coupled with additional capacity that has come on stream this year. The luxury cruise sector is also expected to continue to thrive, with new ships now in service and signs that strong growth will be maintained.
“Despite challenging economic times affecting many areas of the travel industry, the sheer value and variety of a cruise holiday continues to appeal.” said Mr. Gibbons. “This is reflected in both this year’s seven per cent increase in passenger numbers and these exciting numbers for 2011 indicating continuing consumer demand and satisfaction. 2010 has been a unique year; we have seen many new ship launches and this increased capacity will have a full year effect in 2011.”
Mr. Gibbons continued: “Year after year the cruise sector reports impressive growth with 2011 being no exception. Cruising is again likely to outperform all other areas of the holiday market with travel agents continuing to play an integral role, accounting for 80% of cruise sales. The all-inclusive nature of a cruise holiday, which can be purchased in sterling and which offers exceptional standards of quality, innovation, choice and customer service, continues to make it a compelling and mainstream holiday choice. Cruise customers have conducted their own spending review – and have decided to carry on cruising in style.”