Latest figures show more ex-UK cruises and shorter cruise holidays setting the trend with one in nine package holidays now a cruise.

Figures released today from the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) show that cruise holidays grew by 6% at a time when the total number of foreign holidays continued to decline.


The PSA’s 2010 Cruise Review confirms cruising accounted for a 4.5% share of all foreign holidays taken in 2010 (36.1m) and 11.5% of the package holiday market (14m).

Brits took a record 1.62 million ocean cruises in 2010 – a figure which has more than doubled over the past 10 years and which the PSA forecasts will continue to grow to 1.7m cruise holidays in 2011.

Value and variety are the key reasons fuelling the increase with two-thirds (66%) of UK passengers citing value for money as the main reason for choosing their last cruise, and nearly a quarter (24%) citing the all-inclusivity of cruise pricing.

Cruising comes home

The main trend in cruising in 2010 was the above average 10% growth of UK departure cruises, with Southampton the busiest cruise port in Northern Europe. UK passengers sailing from a British port now account for more than 40% of all cruises, with the fly/cruise share declining to just fewer than 60%. Nevertheless fly/cruise numbers are still rising in absolute terms and are expected to exceed one million passengers from the UK in 2011.

More Shorter and Lower Cost Cruises

A second key trend is shorter cruises are becoming more popular with the average duration coming down from 11.1 days to 10.2. There’s growing interest in short cruises from UK ports, which also resulted in four out of ten cruises booked in 2010 costing under £1,000.

New to Cruise appeal maintained

In 2010, one in every three passengers was on their first-ever cruise. Over the past five years cruising has attracted 2.4m first timers. More families are now cruising with children, with 7% of passengers under 18 years old and the ratio of those under 35 increasing from 11% to 13%. This contributed to the average age of a UK cruise passenger now being just over 54.

Ultra-Luxury Cruises continues on the up

The ultra-luxury cruise sector grew by a further 6% in 2010, responding to the economic downturn by including more elements, such as drinks, excursions and gratuities, in the price. Since 2004, ultra-luxury cruise holidays have grown 44% with more than 24,000 cruises taken in 2010.

Brits Head to Med

An 18% growth in Mediterranean cruises was seen in 2010, with UK port departures to the Med showing a massive 41% increase. Cruise holidays to the Caribbean have levelled off but it has still nearly doubled its number of British cruise passengers over the last decade, not far short of the 109% growth for the Mediterranean over the same period.

Meanwhile the Baltic has trebled its growth over the past decade and with last year’s 2% increase judged to be a blip, double digit growth is expected to resume to this very popular region. However, the accolade for the fastest growing cruise spot goes to the Arabian Gulf and Red Sea. The 76% increase to 58,000 passengers was fuelled by the rapidly increasing deployment of cruise ships offering an alternative winter cruising destination. Geo-political events in these regions are unlikely to stall this growth.

Overseas Tourists Flock to UK Ports

A 32% increase in the number of overseas passengers cruising from UK ports in 2010 means this total has grown by two-thirds in just six years. A record 116 cruise ships visited the UK in 2010 with 47 ports receiving at least one call. Travel Agents book 79% of cruises... Despite the growth of online booking, cruise passengers still turn first to Britain’s High Street travel agents who accounted for over 79% of cruise bookings in 2010. Travel agent delegates at the ACE UK Cruise Convention in Southampton (3-5 May) point to the continuing investment in training and product knowledge that can make a real difference in successfully selling cruising holidays.

....and they keep on coming back

Once sailing - forever smitten. According to the Cruise Review, four out of ten UK passengers booked one cruise in the last year, with nearly 60% taking at least two cruises in 2010. Commenting on the 2010 Cruise Review, PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “In a challenging economic environment, these figures show cruising is giving the British customer what they want - a complete, inclusive holiday with exceptional value, high standards, endless variety and exciting destinations. It is a more contemporary form of package holiday that appeals to families, couples of all ages and those with an adventurous streak.”

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