With cruise calls up by 34 percent over the past two years and a further ten percent increase projected for 2015, the economic impact of cruise to the Welsh economy was £2.4 million in 2013 and is anticipated to be worth even more by December 2014.
For 2015, Wales will have over 30 cruise calls from UK, Germany, US/Canada and France, with new and larger vessels coming into Wales as well as being more visible on the smaller, luxury ship itineraries.
One of the largest ships coming to Holyhead for the first time in 2015 is the new Celebrity Silhouette, which carries 3,200 passengers.
The luxury market is also putting Wales firmly on the map in 2015 with upmarket operator Prestige making four calls into Holyhead with its exclusive ships sailing under the Regent Seven Seas and Oceania banners.
The all-suite small luxury ship Corinthian, owned by US operator Travel Dynamics, will also be making four stops in Holyhead and four in Fishguard and luxury French operator Ponant Cruises will be bringing Le Boréal to Holyhead.
In addition, exclusive operator Hebridean Island Cruises (owned by All Leisure Group) is bringing the Hebridean Princess (a ship sometimes chartered by the Queen) to Cardiff – a fitting port of call with its royal connections.
All Leisure Group is also supporting Wales with its other brands: Voyages of Discovery is calling at Holyhead with its ship Voyager and Swan Hellenic’s Minerva is also coming to Wales as part of a joint project with the National Trust.
Suzanne Thomas, Cruise Manager Wales said: “This is an incredibly important development in Wales’ cruise agenda and operators are beginning to realise how much we can offer cruise passengers. This year we have already welcomed over 20,000 cruise passengers to Wales and we have initiated special workshops and training to ensure that we can deliver new and exciting products for cruise passengers, as well as providing the cruise lines themselves with the facilities they need.”
To cater for the employment prospects offered by the growing cruise industry in Wales, Cruise Wales has recently held recruitment presentations to over 300 students in South Wales colleges, in partnership with Viking recruitment, offering entry level hospitality positions on a five-star cruise line. These will continue in the new year pan Wales.
The German Ambassador linguistic guide training will also be held in West Wales next year to ensure that Wales can provide German speakers for the cruise lines calling at Fishguard and Milford Haven in 2016.