Germany remains the number one source market in Europe for cruises but the UK’s growth to just shy of 1.79 million passengers cruising last year is “the highest increase in eight years,” according to the trade body Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
CLIA said the surge in passenger numbers is due primarily to increased capacity.
Largest cruise ships
The number of passengers cruising from a UK port is up 12 per cent to 840,000. Those additional 101,000 ex-UK cruisers followed in the wake of key ship launches in 2015, including P&O’s Britannia, which holds 3,600 passengers and Royal Caribbean’s 4,180-passenger Anthem of the Seas.
Royal Princess also cruised from Southampton last summer.
“It is unlikely we will see as high growth in 2016 as we did in 2015,” said director CLIA UK and Ireland Andy Harmer.
Destination winners include the Atlantic islands, which had their best-ever year, and the Caribbean, which saw its biggest rise in five years (up 15 per cent). The Canaries and Madeira, and the Azores, saw a record 188,000 passengers (67 per cent up on 2014). The Mediterranean remains the most popular, with 672,000 passengers choosing the region.
However, Norway, in the ascendant for several years, saw 27,000 fewer cruise passengers visiting from the UK last year. The Baltic region also saw a significant fall.
Magnus Zetterberg, managing director UK and Ireland for Hurtigruten, which offers a coastal cruise service around the Norwegian coast, said the dip in numbers in 2015 was temporary, and had already been reversed in 2016. The line reports a 30 per cent increase in passenger numbers since the turn of the year.
CLIA’s Harmer said said the cruise-holiday shopping list has grown exponentially. “We are seeing expansion in the Far East, Australia and, nearer to home, the Atlantic Islands are proving particularly popular.
A log cabin in Norway
"It is understandable that passengers will on occasion seek out new destination experiences. Norway, with its spectacular fjords and Northern Lights will undoubtedly attract more passengers again in the future.”
The number of UK passengers taking a river cruise grew by 10,000, taking the total to 150,300. Europe accounts for 87 per cent of river cruises taken by UK passengers.
Most beautiful rivers
The number of British travellers taking an ocean cruise grew by 145,000, taking the total number of cruisers last year to 1,789,000, according to figures released by CLIA UK & Ireland. The number of German cruisers rose to 1.8 million.