UK and Irish cruise numbers surpass two million for first time

UK and Irish cruise numbers surpass two million for first time
More British and Irish travellers took an ocean cruise in 2018 - a record for the industry (Image: CLIA)

More than two million cruise passengers from the UK and Ireland took to the waves for an ocean cruise in 2018 – a record high for the industry – according to Cruise Lines International (CLIA) UK & Ireland.

The CLIA Cruise Review report found that the number of British and Irish citizens taking an ocean cruise was up 2% from 2017, making the UK and Ireland the second European market to have reached over two million cruises and the fourth globally. The region also exceeded the two million mark a year earlier than predicted.

“Surpassing the two million mark is a significant milestone, as it illustrates how cruise has become a major player within the UK and Irish travel sector,” said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director. “As only the second European market to reach over two million cruises and the fourth globally, this figure demonstrates the continued strength of cruising as a mainstream holiday choice in the UK and Ireland and is a testament to the industry’s resilience to economic and political changes.”

According to the report, the average age of British and Irish cruise travellers was 57 years old, while the average cruise duration was 10.1 days. A total of 397,000 people took 14-day voyages in 2018 – a 5% rise from 2017 – and an additional 29,000 passengers opted for a short ‘taster’ cruise lasting between one and three days.

Europe remained the most popular destination for British and Irish travellers, with 70% of itineraries being booked in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe and Baltics. However, there was also a 44% growth in the number of reservations for expedition cruises to destinations such as the polar regions, the Galápagos Islands and Antarctica, with bookings growing from 22,000 in 2017 to 32,000 in 2018. Almost 30% more South America and Panama Canal voyages were booked, while sailings in Asia and China grew by 41% from 45,000 in 2017 to 63,000 last year.

“Thanks to the large deployment of incredible ships offering an amazing choice of itineraries in European destinations, as well as the number of cruises sailing ex-UK, our love of cruising Europe still regimes supreme,” said Harmer. “Increasingly, however, British and Irish travellers are looking further afield for their holiday for a unique and authentic experience, and this can be seen by the growth in far-flung destinations that such as the polar regions, South America and Asia.”

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Rebecca Gibson
By Rebecca Gibson
Thursday, April 18, 2019