UK cruise industry set to return to record levels of growth


The UK Passenger Shipping Association’s annual cruise review demonstrated how the industry is set to return to record levels of growth after last year’s slowdown.

The growth rate for UK cruise passengers in 2010 is expected to double from last year, new figures from the Passenger Shipping Association have revealed.

In its annual cruise review, the PSA found around 1.5 million UK travellers took a cruise in 2009 – up 3.8% from the previous year.

It was a much smaller growth than 2007 when passenger numbers rose by 10.9% and in 2008, when they continued to soar by 10.5%.

The slump in the growth rate was put down to the economic downturn, but the PSA’s figures suggest the industry could be leading an upturn, as passenger numbers are predicted to rise 7.6% in 2010 to 1.6 million, and to 1.7 million in 2011.

The PSA said the predicted higher growth rate was down to the arrival of four ships dedicated primarily to the UK market – P&O Cruises’ Azura, Celebrity Eclipse, Cunard Line’s Queen Elizabeth and Thomson Dream.

Other brands such as Holland America Line, Disney Cruise Line, MSC Cruises and Cruise and Maritime Voyages are also increasing ex-UK capacity, which the PSA said would encourage UK passenger numbers to rise.

PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “This year is on course to be another record year. With a further 14 ship launches this year and more ships dedicated to the UK market, we are confident of reaching two million passengers by 2014.”

Geoff Lawrence, sales and marketing director for All Leisure Holidays, agreed: “There is more capacity coming into the market, and this will encourage new cruise passengers into the sector.

“Ex-UK cruises will also appeal to lots of people, especially for the older generation, who don’t have to worry about baggage allowances or having to deal with airports.”

More than one in 10 inclusive package holidays taken last year was a cruise, compared with just one in 30 back in 1998.