The experts’ predictions were right – 1,789,000 UK and Ireland passengers went on a cruise in 2015 – that’s 9% up on 2014, according to new figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association UK & Ireland (CLIA).
The popularity of river cruising also continues to grow with 150,300 passengers – a rise of 8% in 2015.
CruiseBritain has also announced that cruise day calls to UK ports reached the Magic Million – 107 individual ships called in, many ships calling on multiple occasions, bringing a record 1,017,000 passenger day calls – up 10% since 2013.
The surge in cruise passenger numbers was due primarily to the launch of P&O Cruises’ Britannia and basing the Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas at Southampton between May and October. Cruise & Maritime Voyages has also introduced Magellan and Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess returned to Southampton for spring and summer 2015.
The UK growth in 2015 outpaced that of the European market leader, Germany, but it was not sufficient to take the UK back to being the leading source market in Europe.
Germany maintained its 28% market share while the UK increased its share from 26% to 27%. However, measured in terms of bed nights, the UK and Ireland market is still the largest market in Europe with 18.9m bed nights compared with the German total 15.8m bed nights.
2015 had followed several years of slow growth as the industry adjusted to a challenging economic climate which forced lower levels of new ship investment for the UK market while the withdrawal of international capacity from European destinations to the Caribbean also dampened growth.
First time cruiser numbers made up 33% of the market over the last decade (the average percentage over the last 10 years was 34%).
The last 10 years has also seen a substantial rise in Atlantic cruises from 51,000 to 141,000 from 2006 to 2015. The Mediterranean sector increased its popularity for UK ocean cruise passengers with 38% of the market in 2015, up from 37% in 2014.
There were 10% more Mediterranean cruisers but 25% more fro the Atlantic Islands.
Likewise, cruises to Western Europe, including the UK has risen from 88,000 to 252,000. The Far East and Australia cruise figures are up from 15,000 to 43,000.
Trends in the UK and Ireland ocean cruise market can, however, often be pinned down to the changes in market capacity and with less capacity increases scheduled for the market in 2016, it is unlikely that we will see as high growth in 2016 as we did in 2015, says Andy Harmer, Director CLIA UK & Ireland.
He added: “Nevertheless, the indicators are that the market has a solid base with a consistent first time cruiser percentage and the opportunity to raise the level of multiple cruise-taking in the year to the higher levels seen in previous years.
“The 9% growth in passenger numbers was accompanied by a 3% increase in average revenue per passenger. This should underpin some organic growth for 2016.”
Key figures released by CLIA Europe:
- 1,789,000 UK and Ireland passengers cruised in 2015 – 145,000 (9%) more than in 2014, the highest increase in eight years
- The number of passengers starting their cruise from a UK port increased to 840,000, marking a 12% increase
- 2015 fly cruises increased to 949,000, marking a 4.9% increase
- The Mediterranean remains the number one destination accounting for 672,000 passengers
- Cruise represented 10.8% of the package tour business in the UK and Ireland
- 6 million Europeans cruised in 2015, an all-time high – 200,000 or 3% more than in 2014
- The number of Europeans choosing a cruise holiday has increased by 49% since 2008, when the economic downturn began, amounting to a 6% average annual growth rate