UK Cruise Markets Continue to Grow
Thursday 17, June 2010
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Recently, the Passenger Shipping Association (http://www.psa-ace.org) released its 2009 UK cruise statistics, and the results look very promising. Despite the poor global economy, the UK cruise market continues to increase in size and popularity. In 2009, more than 1.53 million Britons took a cruise vacation, up 4% from 2008.
The luxury cruise industry in the UK, surprisingly, achieved the most gains of any cruise section in 2009. As a result of the additional of several up-market ships to the region, Britons are more readily able to book a luxury cruise and have been doing so in droves.
There are several interesting statistics that the report elucidates including a distinct rise in UK luxury cruises at the same time as overall UK cruise prices have decreased 6% to £1,330. Even more telling about the real strength of the growth in the luxury cruise market in the UK is the rise in cruises priced over £5,000. Overall, 30,000 customers spent £5,000 on their cruise in 2009, and an astonishing additional 200,000 paid between £2,500 and £5,000. If cruise lines such as Regent, Crystal Cruises (http://www.cruiselinefans.com/crystal-cruises/), Seabourn and Silversea cruises keep injecting value into their cruise vacations (http://www.cruiselinefans.com/cruise-deals/), including free flights, free shore excursions and large onboard credit accounts, passengers will keep booking them.
Standard cruise vacation package prices have actually dropped slightly in the UK, by an average of about 6%. This drop in price has actually led to the UK cruise crowd taking advantage of lower prices and heading out on multiple cruises in a year. 6 out of 10 British cruise buyers went on more than one cruise (http://www.cruiselinefans.com/) last year, compared to last year’s 5 out of 10 cruisers. Interestingly, one in four British cruisers took 3 or more cruises and 1 in 25 were lucky enough to take more than 6 cruises last year. It would appear that the ease of booking, inclusive nature, and lower prices have allowed the cruise vacation to take solid hold in the mind of the British when they attempt to decide on the next holiday.
While the North American cruise market has almost doubled in the last ten years, we see a tripling in size of the UK cruise market during the same period. Continental Europeans have also increased their cruise bookings dramatically in the last several years. German cruise purchases have risen to 1 million per year and are expected to exceed those of British passengers in the next few years.
In overall growth figures, the UK and Europe are definitely beginning to give North American and US cruisers a run for their money, in terms of cruise bookings and expenditures. While overall numbers of US cruisers continues to rise, the growth rate for the US cruise vacation market has slowed slightly to just over 1% per year, the European and UK cruise (http://www.cruiselinefans.com/united-kingdom/) market has seen overall growth rates ranging from 4-6%.
Europeans and Britons do tend to stay somewhat closer to home, for example preferring Northern Europe cruises (http://www.cruiselinefans.com/europe/) to Caribbean destinations. Despite this tendency towards cruise destinations in familiar climes, UK cruisers have increased the duration of their cruise vacations by two full days, reaching an average of almost 11 days onboard ship per cruise, in the last five years.
In addition to these exciting overall growth trends booking methods have seen a dramatic shift towards online bookings in the past year. Bookings made online through travel agents increased from 9% to 17% during the period.
CEO Alex Saint observes, “British and European cruisers have an increasing array of ships, cruise lines and itineraries to suit their vacation needs, and clearly they are taking full advantage. Interestingly though for the online world the most exciting trend of the latest period is a large shift towards online booking. We believe that websites like CruiseLineFans provide the type of quality information that gives consumers the confidence to complete their bookings online. We anticipate that this will continue strongly in the next period.”
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