The number of UK cruise passengers is set to reach two million by 2012 at the latest, according to The Cruise Report 2008.
The rapid growth means that the number of UK cruise passengers will have effectively doubled in just eight years, having taken nearly 50 years for the number of cruisers to hit the one million mark.
The cruise report makes the prediction based on estimates by the UK Passenger Shipping Association that 1.35 million cruises were booked by UK residents last year, with a rise of 15% to 1.55 million predicted for this year.
The report is compiled by Carnival UK, which is made up of the brands P&O Cruises, Ocean Village, Cunard, The Yachts of Seabourn, and Princess Cruises.
Carnival UK’s own brands enjoyed an 11% increase in UK passenger numbers last year, carrying more than half a million passengers and maintaining market share of around 40%. Overall growth in UK passenger numbers in 2007 was 12%.
In the report Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle said: “We can be ever more confident that the UK cruise market will reach two milli on passengers by 2012 at the latest.”
He attributed the fast growth of the sector mainly to capacity increases thanks to new ships, which have included the introduction of Emerald Princess and Royal Princess to Princess Cruises’ fleet, a second ship to the Ocean Village fleet and Cunard’s Queen Victoria.
In April P&O Cruises’ Ventura comes into service, which has already attracted a higher number of first-time cruisers – about 50% compared with the usual 40%. Ventura will increase P&O Cruises’ capacity by 22% to maintain its market leadership with a share of more than 20%.
Dingle predicted that 60% of the 200,000 extra passengers forecast for the UK market this year will come from Carnival UK brands.
Dingle added that the main challenges for the cruise industry remain recruiting and retaining suitably-qualified officers and crew for the cruise fleets and meeting environmental requirements.
Other predictions made in the report include hitting the five million mark and the disappearance of single supplements by 2020.