Published on Friday, April 25, 2008

Family cruise bookings soar by 31%

The UK’s largest independent travel retailer The Co-operative Travel has claimed a 31% rise in cruise bookings by families this year.

Families now represent one in ten of all cruise passengers, according to the agency group.

The figure emerged as Royal Caribbean International’s largest ship Independence of the Seas was due to arrive in Southampton for its naming next Wednesday, following last week's launch of P&O Cruises’ largest family-friendly ship Ventura.

The trend by UK families mirrors the habits of American holidaymakers, according to Co-operative Travel. 

The Cruise Lines International Association, which represents 97% of US cruise ships, says that they carry approximately one million children each year and this demand has led cruise operators to increasingly cater for a family market.

Trevor Davis of The Co-operative Travel said: "Cruising has been one of the travel industry’s biggest success stories.  In the US these types of holidays have been genuinely multi-generational and it now seems UK families are catching on to what’s on offer.

"The major cruise operators have courted parents looking for a stress-free break by fitting ships with increasingly bigger and better attractions for families, as well as improving their kids clubs and entertainment.  They have also increased the number of ships departing the UK and the proportion of family berths.

"The cruise lifestyle is also appealing to families, giving them the flexibility to eat what and when they want and allowing older children more freedom to roam and try out new thrills such as on-board surfing and climbing walls.

"Combine that with departures from the UK and you can cut out the stress and expense of flying with young children.  It’s a powerful offer."

 He added: "The launch of The Independence of the Seas will only serve to further boost the family cruising market.

"The added publicity and capacity it will bring will show more parents what cruising has to offer them and their children."

by:Phil Davies

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