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Cruise industry in the United Kingdom (UK) - statistics & facts

A cruise refers to a vacation taken on a large ship that travels overseas to different ports where passengers can stop and sightsee. The UK ocean cruise market experienced positive growth rates until 2018 but recorded a negative growth for the first time in 2019. Overall, the number of cruise passengers from the UK and Ireland reached nearly two million in 2019. Behind Germany, they account for the second-largest source market of cruise passengers in Europe.

Cruise passengers in the UK

Although many UK passengers fly to destinations abroad to start their cruise journey, quite a few also embark from domestic ports. The number of international cruise passenger arrivals and departures at ports in the UK has developed in recent years, with routes traveling around the North Sea, Baltic Sea, along the Atlantic coast, and on transatlantic routes. Southampton is the main cruise port for embarking and disembarking cruise passengers in the UK, and one of the busiest in all of Northern Europe. Interest in cruise holidays is relatively mixed among Brits. Of the holidaymakers surveyed who had not yet been on a cruise, an almost equal proportion were interested as disinterested in 2019. Although many companies try to market to families and younger age demographics, the age of cruise passengers from the UK and Ireland remains mostly above fifty.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on cruise travel

With the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2020, travel worldwide was severely constrained as many countries enacted travel restrictions and stay-at-home orders in efforts to control the spread of the virus. As part of the travel industry, the cruise industry was therefore also impacted. Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook shows that revenues of the cruise industry in the UK are expected to sharply decline in 2020, by over 70 percent, due to the impact of COVID-19. Cruises were forced to suspend operations in the UK since March of 2020, and the estimated total expenditure loss due to cruise suspension during COVID-19 was also projected to be steep. Total lost expenditures could be over one billion British pounds within 60 days alone, and doubling after 90 days of cruise suspensions.

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Cruise industry in the United Kingdom (UK)

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