(6:38 p.m. EST) -- Not even a mega-ship-sized hole in the wallet will keep Brits from their cruise holiday, a survey on the booking habits of nearly 5,000 U.K.-based cruisers revealed.
In a questionnaire carried out for the eight Carnival U.K. brands (Cunard, Princess, P&O Cruises, Ocean Village, Costa Cruises, The Yachts of Seabourn, Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines) and a U.K. travel agency, 65 percent of respondents implied that they would not let the recession stop them cruising. Thirty-seven percent said they'd spend less on a cruise but would still book, while 28 percent would cut back elsewhere so that they could still afford to cruise.
The survey, revealed on Monday in conjunction with Carnival U.K.'s annual Cruise Report, also asked respondents a variety of cruise-related queries, including whether ship trumps itinerary when choosing a cruise, how big is too big and how important it is to cruise from a "homeport."
Here are the highlights:
Itinerary Trumps Ship. To Brits, itinerary matters more than the ship or even the cruise line. More than half the 4,764 respondents said itinerary was the deciding factor in booking a cruise, with just one in 16 citing the individual ship.
What's Your Ship Size? Brits are also apparently less keen on enormous ships; half the people surveyed said between 1,000 and 2,000 passengers was their optimum size of ship, and only one in 100 said they would opt for a ship carrying more than 4,000 passengers -- a figure presumably thrown into the report as a dig at Royal Caribbean's 5,400-passenger Oasis of the Seas.
Onboard Attractions -- Essential or Overrated? The report took a further swipe at Oasis in its list of what people want onboard. Swimming pools, theatres, restaurants, shore excursions, children's programmes and bars rated the highest -- no surprise there -- with climbing walls and ice rinks, both Royal Caribbean trademarks, a long way down the list. Interestingly, spas and shops were also regarded as less important.
Fly-Cruises and Fellow Passengers. When it wasn't trying to get one up on the competition, the report produced some interesting results. Half the respondents in the survey preferred ex-U.K. cruising, the main reason being the lack of luggage restrictions, while among the third who liked fly-cruises, more interesting itineraries and better weather were the main choices. A third (31 percent) like to travel with mainly British passengers as their cruising companions but a less xenophobic 27 percent like a mixture of British and American guests, while 28 percent don't mind who they cruise with.
Fantasy Onboard Performer. When it comes to entertainment, the respondents' suggestions were more diverse. Comedian Peter Kay came top of the fantasy cruise entertainer list, although he only won 5 percent of the votes, followed by stand-up favourite Michael McIntyre, singer Michael Buble, Britain's Got Talent finalist Susan Boyle and, perhaps more realistically, cruise ship diva Jane McDonald.
More disturbingly, a number of cruisers, the report said, were keen to see Elvis, Frank Sinatra and Les Dawson on board, all of whom are dead.
--by Sue Bryant, Cruise Critic Contributing Editor
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Brits Will Make Financial Sacrifices To Carry On Cruising, Survey Reveals
March 5, 2010