The above Satellite shows three Hurricanes.
The number of cruises sold to British holidaymakers in 2017 may have exceeded two million if hurricanes had not hit the Caribbean, it has been claimed.
Clia last week reported a record year for the British cruise industry, with 1,959,000 Britons taking a cruise holiday in 2017 – an increase of 0.5% against 2016.
Stuart Leven, Clia’s UK and Ireland chairman, said it was a “major factor” that “five or six weeks” after hurricanes Irma and Maria struck ships were sent to help with the humanitarian effort.
He told Travel Weekly: “I would not lay it firmly at the door of hurricanes but several ships were taken out of service in order to help, which means there were fewer holidays to sell and flights were cancelled. It is a major factor.”
He added that the hurricanes had “not had any impact” on future bookings, adding that it could have been “the difference” between hitting the two million mark and not.
When asked about the figures at Abta’s First Time Cruisers Conference in central London, Leven said the UK market has “massive scope for growth”.
He said cruise lines would be encouraged to deploy more ships in the UK due to people cruising for the first time giving higher satisfaction scores after the sailing.
“If you can get more people on ships there is a massive scope for growth,” he said.
Leven cited how the UK cruise industry holds a 4.5% share of the holiday market, but if that figure increased by one percent that would add 500,000 passengers to the annual number of Britons taking cruises.
He also said: “Most of the agents are better at selling a cruise than the cruise lines are. They are the experts. Eight out of 10 bookings come through the trade.”
The cruise industry is “breaking through the glass ceiling” and is finally being recognised as a mainstream holiday.
David Dingle, Clia Europe’s deputy chair, also said the number of UK cruise passengers will hit two million by 2020.
He said: “We are getting to that two million figure. We hit 1.9 million passengers in 2016, so I definitely think we will hit two million by 2020.
“We are really breaking through the glass ceiling. I think we are at the stage where cruising is being recognised as a mainstream holiday.
“Whether we see the same year on year growth yield as we did this year that will unfold, but at the moment we are seeing further growth.”
The cruise industry is undergoing a “significant” new shipbuilding programme following the financial slump in 2008.
“During that period there has been a lag in the introduction of new capacity,” Dingle said. “So as much as anything we are going through a catching up exercise.”
There are 72 ships on order all of which are set to be built before 2025. The value of that order is $50billion.
All the major lines, including Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises and Carnival, have ships launching in 2018.
Marella and AIDA Cruises, Germany’s largest line, also have new vessels due to launch.
“The year of 2017 has been a very good year for yield growth but whether we can have that much growth year on year remains to be seen,” Dingle added. “At the moment they are good indicators.”
Dingle pointed to the role of the trade press in helping to boost the cruise sector and also highlighted how comedian Rob Brydon might not have fronted a P&O Cruises television advertisement campaign “five or 10 years ago”.