The UK cruise market continues to grow despite 2009 being one of the most challenging years on record for the wider holiday market, according to figures released today by the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) at The Travel Convention in Barcelona.  

William Gibbons of the PSA said a record 1.55 million Brits will take a cruise in 2009, up 5 percent over 2008,  and predicted further strong growth in the years ahead as consumer interest in cruising remains at an all time high. “The difficult economic climate has made this year a very testing time for our members but the exceptional value offered by a cruise holiday has been reflected in continued record growth.” Gibbons said. “The two key drivers remain value and quality.  The all-inclusive nature of cruising and the very high standards of quality, innovation and customer service have made cruising a compelling and mainstream holiday choice.”

Gibbons continued: “This trend will continue into 2010 when we forecast a 6.5% increase to 1.65 million passengers.  This significant growth will come about with the introduction of new ships dedicated to the UK market – P&O Cruises’ Azura, Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth and Celebrity Cruises Celebrity Eclipse. We will also see Cruise & Maritime introduce a second ship, Ocean Countess, and Royal Caribbean International providing a year-round service from Southampton with Independence of the Seas. U.S. companies are also making a commitment to the UK and ex-UK market, including Holland America Line which, for the first time, is introducing full length cruises out of Dover. There’s now a sustained interest and excitement in cruising which will be reinforced next month with the introduction of the largest ever cruise ship by Royal Caribbean International with Oasis of the Seas”.

A number of factors have contributed to the projected record number of passengers in 2009 including P&O Cruises’ Ventura and Fred Olsen’s Balmoral both being in service for a full year. MSC and Costa Cruises also introduced new large ships, and there has been investment in the ultra luxury sector with new ships from Yachts of Seabourn and Silversea. Thomson, Island Cruises and Royal Caribbean have also shown strong growth as the popularity of fly-cruises continues, according to the PSA.

UK Cruise Market


Total % Yearly Increase

Total

Ex UK Port

Fly Cruise

1997


522,000

140,000

382,000

2005

4.9%

1,070,000

400,000

670,000

2006

12%

1,204,000

451,000

753,000

2007

11%

1,335,000

467,000

867,000

2008

11%

1,477,000

577,000

900,000

2009*

5%

1,550,000

577,000

973,000

2010*

6.5%

1,650,000

647,000

1,003,000

*Forecast figures