Figures released today by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) show that a record 1.9 million holidaymakers from the UK and Ireland took an ocean cruise in 2016.
Cruise International Editor Liz Jarvis said: “These figures come as no surprise – cruising really is the best way to see and explore the world, and with such a wide variety of ocean and river ships on offer, and so many fantastic offers around, there has never been a better time to book a cruise.”
This growth comes at a time of sustained investment by the cruise industry. With global cruise fleet capacity set to increase by at least a third over the next 10 years, the UK and Ireland will be spoilt for choice.
As the popularity of Mediterranean holidays continues to go from strength to strength, the cruise sector is reaping the benefits as holidaymakers make the most of being able to visit multiple European hotspots in one cruise holiday. Mediterranean fly-cruises remain the number one choice (458,000 passengers in 2016), with Western Europe itineraries from UK ports (272,000) now firmly established at number two.
CLIA has also revealed record growth for river cruise holidays, with an 11 per cent rise in the number of UK passengers taking a holiday on waterways in Europe and further afield (166,900 passengers).
Andy Harmer, SVP Membership & Director, CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “We have seen significant investment by companies in new, innovative ships with greater amenities on board and a wide variety of excursions included in the package. This coupled with an ever-increasing choice and diversity of itineraries in Europe and further afield, has led to more UK passengers opting for a river cruise holiday.”
The increase can be attributed to the number of new state-of-the-art ships that launched last year along with the value for money that a river cruise holiday offers. Notably, a large number of UK passengers choosing to take a river cruise have previously experienced an ocean cruise and are attracted by the different experiences and inclusive excursions available on a river cruise – an increase from 59 per cent to 79 per cent year on year.
Europe remains the most popular region, accounting for 87 per cent of river cruises taken by UK passengers. While the trend over the past five years has been for European rivers to increase market share, passengers to destinations outside of Europe increased by 15 per cent in 2016 to 22,000 passengers due to growth in Asia.