The UK ocean cruise market grew by 5% to a record of 1.7 passengers in 2011, with nearly 700,000 people taking their first ever cruise, figures of the Passenger shipping Association (PSA) show. “Passengers cite the key attractions to cruising as value, service and the wide choice of worldwide destinations. More British passengers than ever chose to begin their cruise holiday from a UK port – up 100,000 on the previous year to 753,000. And if current trends continue, within three years half of British passengers will join their cruise ship in a UK port,” PSA said in a statement.
Cruising continues to grow within the package holiday sector with one in every eight package holidays now being a cruise when it was only one in 25 just nine years ago. Ultra-luxury cruises saw a surge in winter holidays with a seasonal rise of 33% - over the year, this related to an eight per cent increase. The top destination remains the Mediterranean, which showed a 10% increase in the number of British passengers visiting the region followed by Northern Europe which retained second place. However, the highest increase in popularity goes to the Atlantic Islands – the Canaries plus Madeira – which recorded a rise of 19%.
An emerging trend for short cruises from UK ports has led to nearly 50% of all cruises booked being of seven nights or less.
PSA Director William Gibbons, said: “It’s clear the exceptional value, high standards and choice of destinations have contributed to a record number of British passengers taking a cruise in 2011. The increased costs of fly-cruise holidays have led to more people joining their cruise at one of the UK’s 50 ports. The sheer diversity of the cruise market means there is a holiday for everyone.”