Figures released 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 last year (36.1m) and 11.5% of the package holiday market (14m).
Brits took a record 1.62million ocean cruises in 2010 – a figure which has more than doubled over the past ten years and which the PSA forecasts will continue to grow to 1.7m cruise holidays this year.
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.
The main trend in cruising last year 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%.
Fly/cruise numbers are also continuing to rise and are expected to exceed one million passengers from the UK this year. A second key trend is shorter cruises are becoming more popular with the average duration coming down from 11.1 days to 10.2 and there’s growing interest in short cruises from UK ports, which also resulted in four out of ten cruises booked last year costing less than £1,000.
Meanwhile, 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 last year.
Despite the growth of online booking, cruise passengers still turn first to Britain’s High Street travel agents who accounted for more than 79% of cruise bookings last year.
Travel agent delegates at the recent ACE UK Cruise Convention in Southampton point to the continuing investment in training and product knowledge that can make a real difference in successfully selling cruising holidays.
Commenting on the 2010 Cruise Review, the PSA's 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.”
For more information visit www.discovercruises.co.uk