The total number of cruises taken between January and September rose to 1,338,000 in 2018 from 1,310,000 in the same period the prior year. Full-year figures for 2018 will be announced in the spring.
Strong post-Christmas sales
This, coupled with indications that the all-important post-Christmas sales period is showing strong demand from cruise customers, puts the UK cruise industry in a strong position for the beginning of 2019, despite continuing political uncertainties surrounding Brexit.
With regard to travel arrangements taking place after March 29, the UK government and ABTA have both issued official guidance on passenger travel to the EU by air, rail or sea after Brexit, especially if there is no Brexit deal.
From March 29, if there is no EU exit deal, cruise operations will continue on the same basis as today.
For UK departures, passengers who embark on a cruise at a UK port will continue to be protected by the EU regulation on maritime passengers’ rights, which will be brought into UK law.
Concerning fly-cruises, UK citizens were reassured that regardless of the Brexit outcome planes will still fly between the UK and the EU. If a deal is agreed then a transition period is planned, meaning everything will stay the same until the end of December 2020 and flights will continue as normal.
Even if there is a no-deal scenario, the European Commission has said UK airlines will still be able to operate flights between the UK and the EU. The UK government has offered similar assurances for EU airlines.
CLIA UK & Ireland advised passengers to take out appropriate travel insurance, check and understand the terms and conditions of their booking, and check with their cruise line and insurance provider if they have questions.
Reassuring to UK and EU citizens planning a cruise
'We welcome this advice and hope it reassures UK and EU citizens planning a cruise holiday,' said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director. 'We would also advise that all UK travellers check the expiry date of their passport when booking travel arrangements, and ensure that there is at least six months’ validity at time of travel.
'2019 is an exciting time for the cruise industry,' he added, with new ship deliveries and refurbishments to a standard that 'rivals even the finest land-based hotels. Never before has there been so much choice for customers in terms of style of ship, itinerary and on-board experiences,' Harmer said.
He added: 'The global fleet development, new destinations to explore, plus recent reassurances from authorities surrounding Brexit, put British travel agents in a great position to tempt their customers to choose cruise in 2019, whether it’s for the first time, or as repeat guests.'