The Asian cruise market will grow but it could take a least a decade to develop into large-scale volumes.

Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle said the growth of new outbound tourism markets from China, India and Malaysia would inevitably lead to growth of cruise passengers from those countries.

“I think the Asian market will take to cruising but it will take a long time. We need to sow the seeds now as these nations are rapidly developing their wealth,” he told ITT delegates.

“We have to be patient – it could take 10 or 20 years until we see large volumes coming out of these markets.”

Meanwhile, the cruise sector is well-placed to withstand fuel increases, said Dingle.

As oil hits $135 a barrel, the cruise boss said fuel was costing its company less than the 40% of total operating costs that it costs airlines.

“The relative impact is not as great. Fortunately the big corporations are blessed with reasonable margins,” he said.