The number of passengers cruising the Arctic, which includes Iceland, is predicted to increase by 37 per cent compared with last year. Cruises to the Norwegian fjords are expected to increase by 29 per cent. And round-U.K. cruises are forecast to increase by 16 per cent. Baltic cruises -- which account for the largest number of cruises in the region -- are predicted to rise by six per cent.
The data, compiled for CLIA and the European Cruise Council -– estimates that a total of 1.49 million cruise passengers are expected to cruise in northern European waters -- up by 16 per cent from 1.28 million last year.
Bo Larsen, director of Cruise Baltic, an association of 25 Baltic Sea destinations and a partner to the European Cruise Council, said: “The Northern European cruise market is growing rapidly, benefitting both from the region's newly extended range of destinations and also from the cruise lines' desire to extend their season here well into the colder months of the year".
In all, cruise ships from a total 44 cruise lines serve a total 253 ports in the northern European region, of which 52 are in the Baltic, 78 in Norway and the Arctic region, and 123 in north western Europe (including the British Isles, North Sea and Atlantic ports).
Kathryn Beadle, MD at Hurtigruten U.K. said: “Having been established on the coast of Norway since 1893, Hurtigruten have been pioneers in promoting cooler climes. Travellers no longer just head to the sun for their holidays as they don't want to just flop and drop, they want authentic and unique experiences and when these are set within breath-taking scenery it provides travellers with memories that last a lifetime.”
• ‘Cool water cruising' is likely to receive a further boost with the news that a London-based travel specialist BAway will be the first agent to package a new visa-free cruise and stay package from Helsinki to St. Petersburg. The four-night break starts with flights from Heathrow to Helsinki before embarking on the Princess Maria, St. Peterline's ferry service from Helsinki. Guests spend overnight on the ferry, which has all the amenities of a cruise including five restaurants and bars, duty free shop and buffet dinner including free beer and wine on board. Passengers can then board the free shuttle bus into St Petersburg, using their ferry ticket as a visa to access the city.
Prices start from £479.00 per person for a four night stay, which includes two nights on the ferry, buffet dinner with wine/beer on the ferry each night and two nights twin bedded accommodation in a four star hotel in St. Petersburg as well as a bus ticket allowing travellers access to transport from the port and around the city for the duration of their stay.
--by Adam Coulter, U.K. Editor