New ships, more passengers: cruise in 2008 – 06 Sep 2007

The cruising industry is predicting great things for 2008.

Some 12% more Brits took a cruise last year and the Passenger Shipping Association forecasts that number will grow 8% this year to 1.3 million and 15% in 2008, to 1.5 million, as more new ships enter the arena.

These include P&O Cruises’ Ventura – the largest ship built for the UK market – and the newly stretched Balmoral, which joins Fred Olsen Cruise Lines in January.

Carnival UK chief commercial officer Peter Shanks expects more interest and growth in 2008.

“Word of mouth is very important,” he said, “At the end of this year we will have Queen Victoria, which will get a lot of coverage. Next year we have the launch of Ventura, Norwegian Cruise Line sailing from the UK for the first time, and Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas.

“The cruise industry must get the right price to maintain yields but not be seen as too expensive. I think at the moment we are getting it just right.”

Shanks forecasts more agents will start selling cruising. “Despite the growth, there is room for more and we will offer them all the support we can,” he said.

P&O Cruises head of brand marketing Philip Price said: “We have got to get more people off the beaches and on to ships. The need to win over more first-timers will be driving us in 2008. We have a solid passenger base, but as Ventura is giving us 30% more capacity we have to find new people.”

PSA director Bill Gibbons said 2008 is set to be a record year, as more people recognise there is a cruise for everyone, whatever their budget. “It is going to be a boom year for ex-UK cruising, with a 40% rise in overall capacity and exciting developments that look set to make it even more attractive to the UK traveller,” he said.

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