Expedition cruises are increasing in popularity, finds ECN

Seven in 10 operators saw business grow in 2023 according to new report 

Expedition cruises are increasing in popularity, finds ECN

Expedition Cruise Network

Expedition cruises are “the fastest growing area of the cruise industry” according to the ECN report

By Laura Hyde |

Expedition cruises are “the fastest growing area of the cruise industry”, according to the Expedition Cruise Network’s (ECN) inaugural Expedition Cruise Network Insights Report 2023/2024. 

The report, which uses two sets of data from travel trade professionals and expedition cruise operators from October and November 2023, analysed UK sales trends to give an insight into the current state of the expedition cruise industry, as well as forecasts for the future. 

The report found seven in 10 expedition cruise operators recorded business growth in 2023, while 98 per cent of travel trade respondents said their expedition cruise business has grown or stayed the same this year.  

HX (formerly Hurtigruten Expeditions) is the most sold expedition cruise operator, according to figures from UK travel trade professionals. Its cruises are sold by 64 per cent of the travel trade respondents, closely followed by Silversea Expeditions at 61 per cent, and Seabourn Expeditions at 43 per cent. However, the market remains diverse, with cruise products from 18 companies sold by at least 10 per cent of travel trade respondents. 

The report also highlighted the three biggest trends expedition cruise operator members named all related to sustainability, with 71 per cent saying sustainability will play a bigger role in consumer choice, with the same number predicting more stringent regulations to visit certain parts of the world. Respondents also highlighted that ships and expedition cruise operators need to improve their environmental practises and footprint. 

“Expedition cruising has experienced steep growth in both consumer demand and capacity over the past few years and in 2024 we will begin to see more mature growth with a pressing impetus on sustainability,” said Akvile Marozaite, CEO of ECN, which was launched in April 2023. “Many of our expedition cruise operator members are innovators in pioneering measures to protect the remote, fragile environments and local communities we all hold so dearly. The inaugural insights report, combining information from voices across the sector, plays a key role in helping understand how to best promote expedition cruising as an incredible choice for travellers from around the world.” 

Read the full report. 

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