Andy-Harmer-bOur regular column from Andy Harmer, Director of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK & Ireland

An impressive 23 million people will take a cruise holiday this year with guests being drawn from many different countries, and in turn they will visit amazing places found in the four corners of the world. The vast majority of cruise passengers are American, with Germany holding the second spot followed by us Brits, but I’ve been on cruises where different nationalities can number way above 30.

When I think back to when I was first introduced to cruising, only two popular destinations really came to mind – the Caribbean and the Mediterranean, the latter still being the most popular with British cruisers.

A lot has changed since then and cruising is now very much a global industry. Ports and destinations remain the number one drive for holidaymakers and cruise lines are constantly introducing new itineraries. And while the majority of British passengers continue to cruise in Europe, others are looking for alternative destinations often off the beaten track, with current focus east to China, Japan, Asia and Australia.

For the first time, more than one million cruise guests now emanate from both China and Australia and we are seeing a growing number of ships being deployed to China, many of which attract Chinese guests. Royal Caribbean, for example, has significantly increased its number of Chinese passengers in a matter of a few years, from 40,000 in 2010 to 500,000 in 2015. British guests wishing to experience these types of cruises will see a number of differences with entertainment being created specifically for the Chinese, larger retail and gambling areas, and different cuisine.

But there are also ships being deployed to Asia and Australasia to cater for British and other European guests. Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that they are returning to the Far East and Australia with new exciting itineraries departing from Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, Auckland and, for the first time ever, they are making visits to India. Other cruise lines offering holidays in the region include Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Holland America Line, Silversea and Princess Cruises.

Asia remains a perfect destination for a cruise holiday with so many wonderful places best visited by ship. Our latest figures show there has been a 29 per cent increase in the number of British cruise passengers who have visited the Far East and Australasia and I’m not surprised. I have been lucky enough to spend time in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore and Beijing, and can completely understand the attraction. The diversity across the region, coupled with the history, scenery, beaches, shopping, culture and people, make this a stand-out area to visit.
*Read a review of an Asia cruise on Royal Caribbean’s Quantum of the Seas.

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