Cruising Grows In Popularity, Not in Price

June 4, 2008
Cruising is, according to the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), growing in popularity in the U.K. The organisation, which last night celebrated its 50th anniversary at the National Maritime Museum in London, launched its annual source book. That revealed that 1.33 million Brits took a cruise last year -- and some two million are estimated to hop onboard by 2012.

Beyond that -- what's really interesting is that even as demand for holidays at sea increases, fares actually are stable. In fact, 38 percent of cruises sold last year cost less than £1,000. That means that a seven day trip could cost as little as £143 pounds per day -- including meals, flights, entertainment and of course transportation between ports of call.

PSA director Bill Gibbons said: "In difficult economic times, the cruise industry is very well placed with the all-inclusive pricing, all meals and entertainment included. With U.K. departures there is no need to fly either."

Indeed, the under £1,000 option is available in a range of ships and trips. In Cruise Critic's deals section today, for instance, we've featured a 10-night cruise and stay in Alaska with Princess Cruises for £799, a 7-night Fred. Olsen Northern Europe cruise for £700 and a 9-night fly cruise with Holland America to the Caribbean for just £899.

Growth Areas

While cruising, for many people, is most commonly associated with big, ultra modern ships, Gibbons pointed out that some of the real growth areas in the industry were with ultra-luxury and expedition cruising.

These cruises, typically offering enhanced services, cuisine and more exotic itineraries, are of course more expensive than mainstream offerings. There was a 12 percent increase in these trips with passengers spending an average £350 a day.

In terms of destinations, South America's round-the-horn cruises, which spotlight Chile's gorgeous fjords, and Antarctica are hot new favorites and Alaska, a cruise region that appeals to a wide variety of travellers, from families to 20-somethings, is another that registered an increase in visits by U.K. passengers.

--by Kelly Ranson, Associate Editor and Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor-in-Chief