The Mediterranean remained the number one destination for British and Irish cruise goers in 2023. Credit: Shutterstock

Record-breaking number of Brits took a cruise in 2023

Author: Kaye Holland

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CLIA has described 2023 as the “new landmark year” for cruise after revealing record passenger volumes and has hailed the industry’s success in attracting more first-timers

In data published yesterday (April 17), CLIA also revealed that the Mediterranean remains the most popular destination for cruise travellers from the UK and Ireland. With 35 per cent travelling there in 2023, 29 per cent to Northern Europe and 12 per cent to the Caribbean.

Exploration destinations have seen a 53 per cent increase in passenger numbers year-on-year and the average age of UK and Ireland cruisers is decreasing: at 55.1 years old in 2023 it is down from 56.1 in 2022.

The average age of cruisers has also come down, from 56.1 in 2022 to 55.1 in 2023, and the average length of cruise has increased from 9.8 days to 10.1 day last year. And 28 per cent were part of a multigenerational group, comprising three or more age groups.

Almost two thirds (65 per cent) of passengers enjoyed a pre-cruise stay in their departure destination, while 52 per cent stayed on after their sailing.

Globally 31.7 million passengers took a cruise in 2023 – slightly more than expected – while passenger numbers are expected to reach 39.7 million in 2027.

In terms of sentiment, perception and intent, a corresponding survey of 4,500 international holidaymakers revealed 82 per cent of cruise passengers say they intend to take a holiday at sea again, a 3 per cent increase from 2019, and 71 per cent of those who have never cruised before would consider doing so.

Meanwhile, more than 300 ships are set to sail this year, the first time the global CLIA member fleet has surpassed this number. Overall capacity will increase by 3.6 per cent as a result.

Andy Harmer, managing director, CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “Cruise continues to lead the way in travel and we can clearly see that from these encouraging latest figures. A holiday at sea offers something to suit all tastes and budgets, both on and off the ship, which makes for an ideal combination.

"With so many holidaymakers returning to the water, and many more eager to dip their toe for the first time, these figures reflect all the advantages a sea escape has to offer.”

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About Kaye Holland

Kaye is a London-based wordsmith who has written for a range of publications including The Times, The Independent, The I, Culture Trip, The Sun, and ABTA among others. In June 2022, Kaye joined the Real Response Media where she looks – together with Lucy Abbott – after the World of Cruising website. Want to get in touch? Kaye can be reached at: [email protected]