Figures released today by CLIA UK & Ireland show that 2013 was another record year for the UK cruise market, with continued growth and port embarkations passing the one million mark for the first time.
The number of British and overseas passengers joining their cruise at a UK port grew 10% to 1,062,000 in 2013, whilst the number of passengers on day visits to one of the UK’s 51 cruise ports jumped by 20% to 866,000.
The number of British passengers taking an ocean cruise also continued to increase with an additional 25,000 (1.5%) in 2013. The UK retains its position as Europe’s No. 1 market accounting for 27% of cruise passengers and, globally, is second only to North America.
The number of Europeans taking an ocean cruise grew 4% in 2013 to 6.357 million, whilst the growth since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 has been 43%.
A cruise in the Mediterranean remained the most popular holiday choice for British passengers, accounting for 644,000 of them, although is set to be overtaken by Northern Europe which is now the destination of choice for one in three UK passengers having jumped 20% to 531,000 UK passengers in 2013. This continues a trend of spectacular growth for this region over the past decade during which passenger numbers have grown fivefold.
Within Northern Europe, Norway stands out particularly, with the number of passengers visiting the country on cruises departing from the UK leaping from 37,000 to 218,000 in just ten years.
This is part of a wider trend which has seen a continuing increase in the number of UK passengers starting their cruises at home rather than overseas. Just six years ago, only a third of UK passengers started their holiday from British ports. By 2013, it was almost half (49%) and in 2014/15, it is likely that more UK passengers will start their cruise holiday from Britain than from an overseas port.
This growth comes at a time of sustained investment by the cruise industry. This year and next year alone will see 13 ocean cruise ships launched worth almost £5 billion and accommodating over 37,000 passengers.
The industry’s investment isn’t limited to new vessels, but can also be seen in the innovation and imagination the cruise lines invest in the development of their itineraries. This is borne out by the fact that the destination remains the number one reason given by UK passengers for choosing a cruise holiday.
Andy Harmer, Director CLIA UK & Ireland, says: “Momentum has returned to the UK cruise market in 2013 with significant growth in passengers numbers and especially in embarkations from our home ports – both of which are impressive achievements when set against a backdrop of an economy that has proven slow to recover.
“The cruise industry’s continued confidence in the UK market is clearly demonstrated by the increasing number of ships that will sail from British ports in the coming years, and we believe this marks a key point in the continuing growth of the UK cruise market.”
Cruising maintains one of the highest satisfaction levels in leisure travel, driving an equally high level of repeat business. For the second consecutive year, 2013 saw more passengers taking multiple cruises (52%) than just one cruise.
Whilst the South East (including London) accounted for by far the largest proportion of UK cruise passengers (27%) in 2013 - that was the same as its share of the UK population, whilst the South West’s market share considerably outpaced its share of the population.
Key figures at a glance:
- 1,726,000 ocean cruises were taken by UK passengers in 2013 – 25,000 or 1.5% more than in 2012
- The UK remains the No. 1 cruise market in Europe, and the second largest in the world
- Embarkations at UK ports grew 10% to 1,062,000 in 2013 (British and overseas passengers)
- The number of passengers calling at UK ports jumped by 20% to 866,000 (British and overseas passengers)
- One in three UK passengers chose Northern Europe as their cruise destination in 2013
- 49% of UK passengers started their cruises at a British port in 2013, and this is forecast to over-take fly cruises
- 6.357 million Europeans took a cruise in 2013 – a 4% increase on 2012, and 43% higher than 2008