LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – The British cruise market is experiencing an unprecedented boom – never before has there been such a huge variety of ships, themes, ports and price points. Cruising proved to be a huge growth area for the travel industry last year and the pace looks set to continue in 2008. More than 1.35 million took to the seas in 2007, according to Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), an 11 percent growth on the previous year. Forecasts for 2008 show that the trend for growth continues, with anticipated numbers of cruise travellers reaching 1.55 million, a 14 percent rise on last year – many of them will be first timers or so called cruise virgins.
Cruise Critic, the world’s leading online resource for consumer-oriented cruise reviews and news, has launched a dedicated U.K. site geared toward the British cruising community, the company’s first country-specific domain and the first site of its kind to serve the British market. To mark the event, the company has also announced the findings of a survey of British cruise “virgins and veterans” revealing what attracts them to cruising, what puts them off and exploring some of the myths about cruise holidays.
As an interactive cruise community and resource for planning cruise holidays, CruiseCritic.co.uk will provide U.K. cruisers with planning tools such as cruise reviews and ports of call recommendations written by both members and Cruise Critic’s expert editorial staff. Cruise.Critic.co.uk content will be programmed uniquely for U.K.-oriented readers, catering to the style and manner in which British travellers cruise. Also, with the launch of the U.K. site, Cruise Critic can now offer unique deals and discounts specifically to U.K. cruisers, something that was not previously possible through the .com site.
“The British have a long tradition of cruising, as many great ships and shipping lines have British origins,” said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief, Cruise Critic. “Despite this lengthy cruise history, just recently, the British cruise market has experienced an unprecedented boom. This boom, coupled with an ever increasing British audience visiting the .com site, made now the ideal time to launch CruiseCritic.co.uk in order to help British cruisers find the right ship, with the right amenities at the right price.”
CRUISE SURVEY RESULTS
All Aboard with Hyacinth Bucket (aka Bouquet)
POSH (port out, starboard home) cabins are no longer quite the thing, but to many cruise veterans, a strict ship dress code and the associated rituals are a key part of the experience. Eight percent of cruise veterans even admitted to having requested a POSH cabin.
It seems that Hyacinth Bucket could be in her element on-board a cruise liner. Sixty-four percent of cruise veterans said that they enjoyed the formal dress code and protocol associated with cruise holidays and 23 percent said that they thought that many cruise holidays have now become too informal.
However it appears that such formality would be a horror for the uninitiated (or perhaps Hyacinth’s Onslow). Sixty-five percent of cruise virgins said they would not enjoy the formal dress code and protocol associated with cruise holidays.
Eighty percent of cruise veterans surveyed enjoyed their first cruise and 87 percent would recommend a cruise holiday to a cruise virgin.
What most puts people off?
At the same time, respondents to Cruisecritic.co.uk’s survey who’ve never cruised had some concerns. When asked “what most puts you off,” eight percent said “too many old people (and two percent said “too many young people”). Other possible barriers: 21 percent noted that you “can’t escape people you might not like,” 19 percent were afraid of being “stuck on the ship with nothing to do,” and 16 percent cited the cost of a cruise holiday as too expensive.
What’s most appealing?
In answer to the question: what do you most find appealing about cruise travel, 58 percent of respondents who’ve not yet cruised cited “variety of destinations” while 11 percent voted for its “laid back, no agenda” ambience.
With a Fair Wind and on an Even Keel
Of cruise virgins willing to go on a cruise, 29 percent would be prompted to take a cruise by a special deal, 16 percent for a special/milestone celebration and 13 percent when they can afford it.
Despite the many different themed cruises ship types now available, most virgins would opt for a luxury ship (39 percent.) When it comes to cruise veterans recommending a type of ship for virgins, 37 percent recommended a big ship cruise while 30 percent recommended a luxury cruise ship.
The Caribbean and Mediterranean were the most popular seas for both the virgins
(28 and 21 percent respectively), and the veterans (32 and 45 percent respectively). Asia was the least popular sailing area among both groups.
Most cruise virgins (25 percent) would like to take six to seven days and would expect to pay Pounds Sterling 500-1000 (49 percent) for a week-long cruise with full board in a standard cabin.
Few Viral Concerns
The biggest worry by far among cruise virgins about taking a holiday on the high seas is the fear of sickness but only eight percent of all respondents expressed any concern about an increased risk of catching a virus.
The Galley and the Grog
The two main impressions that cruise virgins have of cruise cuisine are that “there are plenty of dining options available” (52 percent) and that “it’s just one big buffet” (24 percent). Also, most cruise virgins (63 percent) think that all food is included in the price of a cruise holiday while 14 percent believe that all food and alcohol is generally included in the price.
Talking about the survey results, Spencer-Brown said, “Part of Cruise Critic’s charter is to educate consumers and dispel misconceptions about cruising. A few of these, such as the fact some people feel cruise ships are ‘just one big buffet,’ that alcohol is included in the price of a cruise holiday, or that travellers are highly susceptible to viruses aboard cruise ships highlight the need for more information. The new Cruise Critic U.K. site will help dispel myths and provide British travellers with robust information in order to plan an outstanding cruise getaway.”