The cruise market is showing steady growth despite tough trading that continue to hit package sales.

Ocean Village Holidays managing director Peter Shanks said the cruise market seemed to be immune from the downturn affecting mainstream operators.

The cruise sector has shown growth of 12% per year for the last six years, compared with just 4% for holidays in general in the UK.

Approximately 1.2 million people are predicted to take a cruise this year, with the figure expected to hit at least two million by 2010.

Shanks said product innovation was allowing more cruise brands to enter the market.

He cited examples of Royal Caribbean International’s climbing walls, Cirque du Soleil shows on board Ocean Village ships and Noddy on P&O Cruises’ new ship Ventura.

The growth was driving further ship builds. “The ship yard order book is full,” he added.

Other factors include the range of destinations offered by cruises, with round-the-world cruises proving one of the fastest growing areas, he said.

Meanwhile, increasingly high levels of customer service resulted in customer loyalty, he said. “We used to say that good [service] wasn’t good enough. Now it’s got to be spectacular.”

Cruise sales were also benefiting from creative advertising. “We are investing more in marketing to other sectors,” said Shanks.


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