UK and Ireland cruise passenger numbers fell 4.8% in 2014

UK and Ireland cruise passenger numbers fell 4.8% in 2014

The cruise market in the UK and Ireland shrank for the first time in more than a decade last year, declining by 4.8% to 1.64 million passengers.

The 2014 figure compares with 1.72 million carryings in 2013 and is the lowest figure since 2010.

The drop means Germany overtook the UK last year to become Europe’s biggest market for cruise passengers.

The UK decline was revealed in figures unveiled by trade body Clia at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference on Tuesday.

Andy Harmer, director of Clia UK and Ireland, blamed the dip on an 11.4% decrease in capacity in Europe in 2014.

He said he was confident the industry would “get back on track this year”, adding: “We rely very strongly on where ships are based and sailing.

“UK guests have a really high propensity to cruise in Europe and there was a big reduction in the number of ships in 2014.

“That’s reversed in 2015, when we are seeing a 9% increase in the number of ships sailing here. Everything suggests there’s every reason to be positive about the year ahead.

“We will continue to support the trade in the best way we can with new events and training opportunities.”

Harmer said agents had switched cruise customers to other destinations, growing the number of UK cruisers in the Caribbean. However, he said it was difficult to sway those intent on sailing only in Europe.

The total European market grew by 0.4% last year to a record 6.39 million, with the German market expanding by 5% to 1.77 million.

Harmer said the growth in Germany was due to lines such as Aida and Tui Cruises building ships dedicated to the market.

Italy remained the third‑largest source market in Europe, with 842,000 passengers, despite a 3.1% drop.

France’s cruise industry grew by 13.7% to 593,000, while Spain saw a 4.5% drop to 454,000.

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