There’s tremendous optimism that 2016 will be great year for the UK and Irish cruise sector. And this isn’t just because we saw more ocean cruise holidays taken by Brits last year than ever before, and that this record breaking trend was replicated in the river sector which also posted its best ever year.
This optimism is coming from a number of directions: cruise lines who are reporting strong if not record breaking sales, more ships are being launched with others ordered and, I’m pleased to say, the feedback from agents is proving particularly positive.
New ships of course help increase the cruise appeal. We have seen Royal Caribbean’s latest ship Ovation of the Seas in Southampton soon to be followed by the largest ship in the world Harmony of the Seas and we at Clia are delighted that it will be taking centre stage at the sold-out Clia Conference.
Holland America Line’s Koningsdam is also launching in May 2016 and Clia travel agents have the opportunity to visit the ship when it calls into Tyneside. The new Carnival Vista also sets sail in May followed in June by Thomson Cruises’ newest ship Thomson Discovery.
And it’s not just the larger ships that are grabbing the headlines. You could almost say the ultra luxury sector is booming. Crystal Cruises announced that it’s introducing the world’s first purpose-built polar class megayacht while Ponant is ordering four new expedition ships. Scenic are also moving into the ocean luxury sector with an expedition style yacht. And of course later this year Regent Seven Seas Cruises’, Seven Seas Explorer and Seabourn’s Seabourn Encore join the worldwide fleet.
So a lot is happening in the coming months, including the first Clia European conference. Cruise360 Marseille will combine a conference, business sessions and a trade fair while also showcasing a variety of cruise ships which you may not have visited before. It takes place between 20th and 22nd October with optional ship visit days on 19 and 23 October. The ship’s taking centre stage are: Holland America Line’s Oosterdam (19th); Carnival Vista (20th); Croisiere de France’s Horizon (20th); MSC Poesia and Norwegian Epic (22nd) and Costa Diadema, Thomson Majesty and Celebrity Reflection (23rd).
It really is an exciting time to be selling cruise holidays and we at Clia are here to help you sell more cruise holidays by providing a wealth of information about destinations, cruise ships and experiences – together with offering events up and down the country bringing you together with many different cruise lines along with opportunities to visit a range of cruise ships.
Andy Harmer is vice president operations Clia Europe and the director of Clia UK & Ireland