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UK river cruise bookings hit the heights too

British cruisers took the rivers by storm in 2012, with numbers soaring 14 per cent to 130,000, according to the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA).

And new research released by the PSA today shows that Brits took a record 90,000 European river cruise holidays, a 12 per cent increase on 2011.

This popularity reflects an ongoing upward trend, with Europe representing 69 per cent share of the market compared to only 50 per cent in 2009.

The overall increase in demand for river holidays was driven by new capacity on European rivers and partly by greater political stability in Egypt. Investment in new tonnage in 2012 was strong with an additional 12 river vessels and 2013 will witness over 30 new itineraries and more new ships including two each for Avalon Waterways and AmaWaterways together with new vessels for CroisiEurope, Lüftner Cruises and Scenic Tours.

According to PSA data, the value of the UK river cruise market in 2012 was £175m.

River cruise destination trends

Once again the most popular destination for British river cruises was The Nile, which was booked by nearly 22 per cent of the market and experienced a 12 per cent year-on-year increase in passengers. This was followed closely by the Rhine/Moselle and tributaries (20.7 per cent of bookings) and the Danube (11.6 per cent).

Significant growth was achieved by China and the Far East, which experienced a 38 per cent lift in passengers, up to 5.3 per cent market share in 2012. In total, non-European destinations saw a rise of 19 per cent.

Motivation for booking river cruises

British river cruisers were most motivated by “value for money” in 2012, with 77 per cent citing it as one of the principle reasons for their booking (up from 54 per cent in 2011). The “all-inclusive nature of cruise packages” was the second key factor (referenced by 42 per cent of river cruisers).

Reasons for choosing specific river cruises included the itinerary and destinations (74 per cent) and the duration (21 per cent). British river cruisers were less concerned with using a cruise line with which they had sailed before (22 per cent cited as a factor) compared with their ocean going counterparts (59 per cent of whom highlighted this reason).

River cruise frequency trends

River cruisers are less likely than ocean cruisers to take several river holidays a year. Just 14 per cent of the UK’s river cruisers took multiple river holidays in 2012, compared to 49 per cent of ocean going cruisers who booked at least two ocean holidays.

Less than a third (31 per cent) of UK river cruisers had never been on an ocean cruise, with 23 per cent having been on six or more ocean cruises and 30 per cent having been on one or two.

UK river cruisers take a lot of annual holidays generally. Only 4 per cent had taken no holiday in the preceding year and 13 per cent had taken six or more annual holidays.

Commenting on the growth and trends in river cruising, PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “With 14 per cent annual growth, 130,000 passengers and a market value of £175m, the UK river cruise sector is thriving and becoming ever more significant.

“Buoyed by ongoing investment and passengers’ desire for value that can be found everywhere from the Moselle to the Nile and the Yangtze, the sector can look forward to a successful and exciting 2013.”

Posted on 4th March 2013 at 11:03 pm in Cruise News | PSA |

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