UK cruise bookings have recovered from the slump in the market in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster.
Sales of cruises for summer 2012 rose sharply last week, with industry analyst GfK Ascent reporting a 28% improvement on the comparable week a year ago.
The surge in bookings followed a serious decline year on year during the preceding three weeks, despite some improvement at the start of February.
Seventeen passengers and crew were confirmed dead and 15 remain missing following the disaster on the night of January 13 when the Costa Concordia hit rocks off the Italian island of Giglio.
Analyst GfK Ascent recorded a 29% fall in cruise bookings year on year in the week immediately after the tragedy, and a 24% reduction in the week to January 28 which followed.
Sales picked up in the third week to February 4, but remained 15% down on the comparable period in 2010.
Last week’s surge in bookings appears to signal a recovery, with the cruise market for the season to date just 3% down on the same time last year.
The sector remains ahead of the summer 2012 holiday market as a whole, which GfK Ascent reports as 9% down year on year to date. However, the decline is in line with reduced capacity.
Tui Travel has reported cutting summer capacity by 9% year on year for 2012 and Thomas Cook has reduced its mainstream summer capacity by 11%.
GfK Ascent reports the package holiday market performing slightly better than overall sales at 8% down on the same time last year for the season to date.
Yet packages bookings last week were 12% down on the comparable week in 2010 against overall sales in the week down 11%.
The average selling price of packages so far this summer is up £44 year on year.
Sales for the current winter remain 10% down for the season to date, with package sales down by the same margin.
A GfK Ascent spokesman said: “The market has settled down to pretty much where the major tour operators would expect with their reduced capacity.”
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