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Cruise holidays set for growth

The number of people taking cruise holidays from the UK is set to grow by more than 60% from 1.35 million this year to more than two million by 2012.

This was the prediction of Peter Shanks, chief commercial officer of one of the biggest cruise lines, Carnival UK, speaking at the ABTA Travel Convention in Tenerife. People going on cruise holidays currently spend £1.5 billion but this is expected to grow to £2.5 billion in five years.

Cruise holidays have grown by an average of 12% in the last few years, but cruise experts believe there is still a huge untapped market. According to Shanks less than 3% of people who now go on holiday book a cruise holiday.

Also speaking at the ABTA Travel Convention, Royal Caribbean UK managing director, Jo Rzymowska, advised travel agents to target customers who take theme park breaks, city breaks, spa and fitness breaks, and special interest holidays such as cookery and wildlife breaks, and encourage them to take cruise holidays.

"You have to sell cruise to them because not many will be thinking about booking themselves, but once they have booked they are hooked," Rzymowska told agents.

No less than 45 new cruise ships will be launched by 2012, including Royal Caribbean's Independence of the Seas which will be the largest cruise ship with a home port in Europe when it sets sail from Southampton in May 2008. Other new cruise ships launching next year include P&O Cruises' Ventura in Southampton, and Fred Olsen's Balmoral in Dover.

Written by: Nick Purdom