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Cruising in Med weathers downturn

The number of Europeans taking cruise holidays reached an all time high in 2008 with the UK continuing to top the list of cruise passengers numbers. According to new figures from the European Cruise Council (ECC) at the Seatrade convention in Miami, numbers rose 10% increase to a record 4.4 million.The UK accounts for 33% of the market with nearly 1.5 million British passengers taking a cruise last year, with Germany showing strong growth in second place with 21% of the market and 907,000 passengers - a 19% increase on 2007. Italy, the third largest cruise market in Europe, saw a 6% increase to 682,000 passengers.

The Mediterranean and Atlantic Islands continued to be the most popular destinations with 2.6 million passengers visiting the region - a market share of 60%. Fifty-three percent of passengers booked a cruise holiday lasting between 5 and 7 days with the number of passengers now cruising for more than 22 days increasing by 139% to 55,000.

David Dingle, chairman of the ECC and chief executive officer of Carnival UK, said: “The European cruise industry has seen an impressive 66% growth in the number of cruise passengers in the last five years. This is a tremendous result and suggests cruising is in a strong position to face today’s challenging economic climate. There are 17 cruise ships on order and under construction for the European market for delivery between now and 2012. This is significant investment and we anticipate the upward trend in the number of Europeans taking a cruise holiday to continue in 2009.”