In 2009 more than 1.5 million of us took a cruise. This year the figure is expected to grow by about another 100,000 making it one of the few bright spots for a type of holiday that already has quite a high appeal.
What is that is appealing to holidaymakers? Can the growth keep on continuing?
According to the cruise review site, CruiseCritic.co.uk, there are two main reasons for this attraction. The first is the willingness of cruise companies to slash prices to fill berths and the second is that cut-price offers attract those people who like a bargain. They might not usually consider a cruise but the bargain price appeal is the clincher. So the size of the market might continue to grow as long as the number of bargain hunters grows.
That’s not the entire story because the ship owners need to continually adjust what they offer otherwise passengers will think that many cruises are just like ones they have already been on.
One feature that raised its head last year was the introduction of add-ons to bills much like no-frills airlines have been adding on fees for baggage and so on. Resistance to this and onboard tipping is something that many cruise lines are reconsidering. CruiseCritic highlights the fact that some companies are including tipping in the price and thereby offering all-inclusive rates. Tour operators have been doing this for years and the all-inclusive market has grown and grown as holidaymakers saw the benefits of being able to budget their holidays.
CruiseCritic also thinks that the number of deals to get bookings will begin to dry up and suggests holidaymakers look at getting value for money. Are the flights included? Are some excursions thrown in? Are there some free upgrades available to better cabins?
Certainly, cruise companies are feeling more bullish as they locate more cruise ships in our waters and thereby removing the need to lose time by flying to our embarkation port. And with sterling as an onboard currency, there are no worries about exchange rate problems.