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According to the CLIA – UK (that stands for ‘Cruise Lines Industry Association’) it was – a record number of cruises were sold in the UK ocean cruises market. This was announced last month in the CLIA UK’s Cruise Review for 2015 publication – you can find it here. Here are the main headline figures:-

  • 1,789m cruises sold in the UK ocean cruise market, up from 1.644m in 2014 – an increase of 8.8%;
  • This was the highest figure ever for the UK market;
  • 1-in-9 package holidays sold in 2015 was a cruise, up from 1-in-1o in 2014;
  • Cruising from UK ports increased more than fly-cruises did, so ex-UK cruises “are back on course to account for 50% of passengers within a few years”;
  • The average age of passengers dropped by 3 years – the largest annual drop for more than a decade;
  • Last-minute bookings at the lowest level for five years.

All of which sounds, and is, good. However, if you dig a bit the figures aren’t quite so rosy.

First, there’s that total of 1.789m. Yes, it is up from 1.644m in 2014 and that’s an increase of 8.8%. But the 2014 figure was a disappointing drop from the year before that (1.726m). Here’s a table showing the figures for the last few years:

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 15.28.04

You can see that the 2015 figure (1.789m) isn’t much bigger than the 2011 figure (1.7m). In fact, after very fast growth from 2005 until 2011, things have grown much more slowly in the years since, with one year of actual reverse (2014). All of these figures are drawn from the CLIA UK Cruise Review report, by the way.

There are other figures in the report that at first read encouragingly, but subsequently aren’t quite so much so. One comment is “nearly 2/3 of cruise consumers took more than one cruise – the most multiple cruisers for a decade”. Doesn’t that mean that a significant part of the overall increase must have been accounted for by the same cruise passengers, cruising more often?

Perhaps I’m being too negative – these are certainly better figures than for last year. But I can’t help but feel that they explain the lack of love for Carnival UK in the recent newbuild announcements. As I mentioned in my last post, there are no new ships planned for either of the Carnival UK lines until at least 2020. In the meantime, Costa, Costa Asia, Princess, HAL, Aida and P&O Australia are all slated to get new ships, in many cases several.

Talking of Australia, I’ve dug out some figures about their cruise market. The most recent figures I can find are for 2014, but they make interesting reading. Just over 1m cruises were sold in the Australian market that year. In the previous 10 years, the Australian cruise market increased about 7-fold. In fact, their current penetration rate – that is, the number of cruises sold as a %age of the whole market – was the highest in the world in 2014, at 4.2%. North America is 3.4% and the UK is 2.4%. It’s no wonder that Carnival Corporation has rewarded P&O Australia with a new build – the first ever for an Australia-based cruise line.




One Response to “UK cruise numbers for 2015 – a record year?”

  1. Solent Richard says:

    Just goes to show that 2014 was just a blip waiting for the 2015 general Election. The Conservatives won and everyone felt relief.

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