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UK Cruises market report

Everything you need to make the right decisions

Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Cruises - UK market, and the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

Mintel has the answers you’re looking for

What are the key challenges facing the industry? Who is the consumer and what do they want? Where are the opportunities, where are the risks and what lies ahead?

Covered in this report

The coronavirus outbreak has led to cancellations and amended cruise itineraries in Asia since the start of 2020. Though Asia accounts for a small share of sea and river cruises taken by UK residents, media attention surrounding the impact of the coronavirus on travel and affected cruise ships will impact cruise holidays’ appeal. Demand is forecast to slightly decline in 2020 and return to growth in 2021. However, the full impact will be dependent on how the outbreak evolves over coming weeks and months


Over-55s are particularly attracted to cruise holidays as they offer a convenient way to visit multiple destinations. Meanwhile the majority of young people have not been on a cruise before, which makes it a relatively unexplored holiday type for this group. Given that younger consumers are keen to seek out new and unusual experiences, cruise operators should develop and promote cruises that offer consumers unique and unconventional ways to explore destinations.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Marloes De Vries, a leading analyst in the Travel sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Travellers’ need to share eye-catching stories via social media and their desire to avoid overcrowded holiday destinations worldwide has led to rising demand for unique and exclusive experiences. Cruises are well positioned to benefit from this trend as many would consider taking a cruise to try something new and to explore remote destinations Marloes De Vries
Senior Travel Analyst

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What's included

What's included

Table of contents

Table of contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
      • Products covered in this Report
      • Executive Summary

          • The market
            • Number of sea cruise holidays estimated to have grown moderately in 2019
              • Figure 1: Forecast volume of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays (number of trips), 2014-24
            • Coronavirus impacts demand for sea cruises in the short term
              • Coronavirus and rising competition put pressure on average prices
                • Figure 2: Forecast value of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays, 2014-24
              • Interest in river cruises surged in recent years
                • Average age of sea cruise passengers increased
                  • High interest in destinations beyond the Mediterranean
                    • Ageing population offers huge opportunities for cruise lines
                      • Companies and brands
                        • Cunard offers tips provided by locals
                          • Facial recognition to speed up (dis)embarkation
                            • Hurtigruten introduces eSleds on the Arctic island of Svalbard
                              • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines encourages passengers to bring their own bottles
                                • The consumer
                                  • Significant potential for both sea and river cruises
                                    • Figure 3: Participation and interest in holiday types, November 2019
                                  • River cruise holidays are more likely to appeal to older travellers
                                    • Cruise holidays appeal to those looking for new and exclusive experiences
                                      • Figure 4: Reasons for being interested in taking a cruise holiday, November 2019
                                    • Innovative cruise lines more likely to win over younger passengers
                                      • Local food and drink holds high appeal among cruise passengers
                                        • Figure 5: Attitudes towards cruise holidays, November 2019
                                      • Short cruise breaks great way to introduce cruise holidays to first-timers
                                        • Cruise holidays seen as a greener alternative to flying
                                          • Figure 6: Attitudes towards the environmental impact of cruise holidays versus flying, November 2019
                                        • Wellness facilities are the most desired daytime element
                                          • Figure 7: Interest in onboard activities, total versus daytime, November 2019
                                        • Cost remains the largest barrier to cruise holidays
                                          • What we think
                                          • Issues and Insights

                                            • The voyage to becoming greener
                                              • The facts
                                                • The implications
                                                  • Huge opportunity to tap into the ageing population
                                                    • The facts
                                                      • The implications
                                                      • The Market – What You Need to Know

                                                        • Number of sea cruise holidays estimated to have grown moderately in 2019
                                                          • Coronavirus impacts demand for sea cruises in the short term
                                                            • Interest in river cruises surged in recent years
                                                              • Average age of sea cruise passengers increased
                                                                • High interest in destinations beyond the Mediterranean
                                                                  • Ageing population offers huge opportunities for cruise lines
                                                                  • Market Size and Forecast

                                                                    • Number of sea cruise holidays estimated to have grown moderately in 2019
                                                                      • Figure 8: UK & Ireland sea cruise market passenger volume and value, 2014-24
                                                                    • Coronavirus impacts demand for sea cruises in the short term
                                                                        • Figure 9: Forecast volume of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays (number of trips), 2014-24
                                                                      • Coronavirus and rising competition put pressure on average prices
                                                                        • Figure 10: Forecast value of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays, 2014-24
                                                                      • Interest in river cruises surged in recent years
                                                                        • Figure 11: UK & Ireland river cruise market passenger volume, 2012-19
                                                                      • Forecast methodology
                                                                      • Market Segmentation

                                                                        • Average age of sea cruise passengers increased
                                                                          • Figure 12: Age analysis of UK & Ireland sea cruise market, 2016-18
                                                                        • High interest in destinations beyond the Mediterranean
                                                                          • Figure 13: Sea cruise destinations UK & Ireland market, 2016-18
                                                                        • Rhine, Moselle and Danube remain most visited river cruise destinations
                                                                          • Figure 14: UK & Ireland river cruise market passenger volume, by destination, 2016-18
                                                                      • Market Drivers

                                                                        • Increase in British travellers’ spending power overseas
                                                                          • Figure 15: Pound versus euro and US dollar, 1 April 2016-11 February 2020
                                                                        • Ageing population offers huge opportunities for cruise lines
                                                                          • Cruise sector looking to reduce shipping emissions
                                                                            • Coronavirus impacts global demand for cruises
                                                                            • Companies and Brands – What You Need to Know

                                                                              • MSC Cruises is rapidly gaining ground
                                                                                • Cunard offers tips provided by locals
                                                                                  • Facial recognition to speed up (dis)embarkation
                                                                                    • Silversea launches option to fly directly to Antarctic
                                                                                      • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines encourages passengers to bring their own bottles
                                                                                      • Market Share - Leading Cruise Companies

                                                                                        • Largest cruise companies continue to increase capacity
                                                                                          • MSC Cruises is rapidly gaining ground
                                                                                            • Figure 16: Key facts for the top four global cruise companies
                                                                                        • Launch Activity and Innovation

                                                                                          • Cruise lines focus increasingly on local experiences in destinations
                                                                                            • Azamara expands land-based offering
                                                                                              • Cunard offers tips provided by locals
                                                                                                • Technological innovations to increase efficiency and comfort
                                                                                                  • Facial recognition to speed up (dis)embarkation
                                                                                                    • Carnival Cruise Line launches Pizza Anywhere service
                                                                                                      • The competition in the Arctic region is heating up
                                                                                                        • Silversea launches option to fly directly to Antarctic
                                                                                                          • Hurtigruten introduces eSleds on the Arctic island of Svalbard
                                                                                                            • Cruise lines strive to become greener
                                                                                                              • Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines encourages passengers to bring their own bottles
                                                                                                                • MSC’s cruise ships to be used as floating hotels
                                                                                                                • The Consumer – What You Need to Know

                                                                                                                  • Significant potential for both sea and river cruises
                                                                                                                    • Cruise holidays appeal to those looking for new and exclusive experiences
                                                                                                                      • Innovative cruise lines more likely to win over younger passengers
                                                                                                                        • Local food and drink holds high appeal among cruise passengers
                                                                                                                          • Cruise holidays seen as a greener alternative to flying
                                                                                                                            • Wellness facilities are the most desired daytime element
                                                                                                                              • Cost remains the largest barrier to cruise holidays
                                                                                                                              • Participation and Interest in Cruising

                                                                                                                                • Significant potential for both sea and river cruises in the longer term
                                                                                                                                  • Potential for river cruise lines to expand into ocean cruise market
                                                                                                                                    • Figure 17: Participation and interest in holiday types, November 2019
                                                                                                                                  • High potential to attract repeat cruisers
                                                                                                                                    • River cruise holidays are more likely to appeal to older travellers
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 18: Interest in sea and river cruise holidays, by demographics, November 2019
                                                                                                                                  • Cruising Motivators

                                                                                                                                    • Huge opportunity to tap into the high interest for multi-centre holidays
                                                                                                                                      • Figure 19: Reasons for being interested in taking a cruise holiday, November 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Convenience bigger selling point for older travellers
                                                                                                                                      • Cruise holidays appeal to those looking for new and exclusive experiences
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 20: Reasons for being interested in taking a cruise holiday, by age, November 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Purchase Drivers When Choosing a Cruise Line

                                                                                                                                      • Innovative cruise lines more likely to win over younger passengers
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 21: Factors influencing choice of cruise line, by age, November 2019
                                                                                                                                    • Attitudes towards Cruising

                                                                                                                                      • Local food and drink holds high appeal among cruise passengers
                                                                                                                                        • Figure 22: Attitudes towards cruise holidays, November 2019
                                                                                                                                      • High interest in meeting other passengers
                                                                                                                                        • Short cruise breaks great way to introduce cruise holidays to first-timers
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 23: Attitudes towards cruise holidays, by age, November 2019
                                                                                                                                        • Working parents are most likely to be interested in private areas
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 24: Interest in exclusive experiences – CHAID analysis, November 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Cruising and the Environment

                                                                                                                                        • Cruise holidays seen as a greener alternative to flying
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 25: Attitudes towards the environmental impact of cruise holidays versus flying, November 2019
                                                                                                                                        • Cruise departing from UK ports can benefit from flying shame movement
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 26: Interest in fly cruise holidays, November 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Onboard Entertainment

                                                                                                                                        • Activities to watch provide popular evening entertainment
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 27: Interest in onboard activities (net), total versus daytime, November 2019
                                                                                                                                        • Wellness facilities are the most desired daytime element
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 28: Interest in onboard activities, total versus daytime, November 2019
                                                                                                                                        • The younger generation is looking for both adventure and relaxation
                                                                                                                                          • Figure 29: Interest in onboard activities, by age, November 2019
                                                                                                                                      • Barriers to Cruising

                                                                                                                                        • Cost remains the largest barrier to cruise holidays
                                                                                                                                            • Figure 30: Barriers to cruising, November 2019
                                                                                                                                        • Appendix – Data Sources, Abbreviations and Supporting Information

                                                                                                                                            • Abbreviations
                                                                                                                                              • Consumer research methodology
                                                                                                                                                • CHAID analysis methodology
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 31: Cruises – CHAID – Table output, November 2019
                                                                                                                                              • Appendix – Market Size and Forecast

                                                                                                                                                • Volume forecast for sea cruise holidays
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 32: Forecast volume of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays (number of trips), 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                • Value forecast for sea cruise holidays
                                                                                                                                                  • Figure 33: Forecast value of UK & Ireland sea cruise holidays, 2019-24
                                                                                                                                                • Forecast methodology

                                                                                                                                                About the report

                                                                                                                                                This report will give you a complete 360-degree view of your market. Not only is it rooted in robust proprietary and high-quality third-party data, but our industry experts put that data into context and you’ll quickly understand:

                                                                                                                                                • The Consumer

                                                                                                                                                  What They Want. Why They Want It.

                                                                                                                                                • The Competitors

                                                                                                                                                  Who’s Winning. How To Stay Ahead.

                                                                                                                                                • The Market

                                                                                                                                                  Size, Segments, Shares And Forecasts: How It All Adds Up.

                                                                                                                                                • The Innovations

                                                                                                                                                  New Ideas. New Products. New Potential.

                                                                                                                                                • The Opportunities

                                                                                                                                                  Where The White Space Is. How To Make It Yours.

                                                                                                                                                • The Trends

                                                                                                                                                  What’s Shaping Demand – Today And Tomorrow.

                                                                                                                                                Please Note: This is a sample report. All of the figures, graphs, and tables have been redacted.

                                                                                                                                                Description