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Published on Monday, April 15, 2019

UK cruise passenger numbers rise again

The number of ocean cruises taken by UK and Irish passengers last year reached over two million for the first time.

According to the 2018 Cruise Review, released today by Cruise Lines International Association, the number grew to 2,009,000, 2% more than in 2017.

Within Europe, only Germany has already topped the 2 million mark. The UK hadn't been expected to beat the 2 million mark until this year.

"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," said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director.

He said cruise sales have been more resilient to recent Brexit uncertainty because cruises are generally booked further in advance and because customers understand the cruise industry is used to dealing with the needs of multiple nationalities with different visa requirements.

Globally, the number of ocean cruises taken grew by just under 7% to 28.5 million passengers.

European ocean cruise passenger numbers grew by 3.3% to 7.17million, higher than the 2% growth the year before.

In Europe as a whole, strong growth was seen in cruise passengers travelling to the Eastern Mediterranean, up 8.5% to 746,000 passengers.

Among British cruisers, however, there was a 5% drop in cruises to the Eastern Med to 137,000 passengers, following a 10% drop in 2017.

There was also a 6% drop in cruises to the Central and Western Med, but this remained the most popular region with 553,000 passengers.

Cruises to Northern Europe, meanwhile, grew 8% to 490,000 passengers.

Harmer said British cruisers tend to prefer to start their cruises in the UK, which heavily influences their choice of cruise destinations.

It also means Brits tend to take longer cruises compared to other Europeans, with the average reaching 10.1 days in 2018, compared to 8.7 days for Europeans overall.


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