Industry experts say cruising is set for a significant year in 2022 with more ships and passenger capacity than ever before.
Trade delegates at the ‘Together Again’ event in Southampton run by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) UK & Ireland, which marked the organisation’s first live event for 20 months, heard that up to 80 percent of the world’s cruise ships will be sailing by the end of 2021 and a total of three million people have taken a cruise since April 2020.
In a keynote address, Ben Bouldin, CLIA Chair UK & Ireland and Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Vice President for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said:
“We are about to embark on one of the most defining years cruising has ever seen. Cruise ship capacity will be significantly higher in 2022 than it was pre-pandemic in 2019 due to the number of new ships, 16 ocean and 10 river, which have been built in the interim.”
He added that although planned ship launches had been delayed due to Covid-19 it was notable that no cruise lines had cancelled orders for new vessels.
Additionally, he said there were new facilities to attract cruisers, such as exclusive private islands operated by cruise lines and Southampton’s £55 million Horizon Cruise Terminal, which was the venue for an exhibition before the conference showcasing more than 40 ocean and river cruise lines and travel companies.
In July MSC Cruises’ new flagship MSC Virtuosa, became the first ship to dock at Southampton’s fifth cruise terminal, called Horizon following a public naming competition that attracted 4,000 entries.
In his address Mr Bouldin said the 2021 season of round British Isles cruises, which enabled cruise lines to start operating before international travel restrictions were lifted, had seen cruisers return to their favourite form of holiday in addition to attracting people who had never been on a cruise before.
“Who knew that 21 ships would sail around the UK?”
He added as he thanked the ports of call around the country for their role in delivering a “phenomenal experience” for passengers.
Jo Rzymowska, Managing Director for Celebrity Cruises, UK & Ireland, said the cruise lines had put stringent health protocols in place to ensure safety without detracting from an enjoyable holiday experience.
“Our audiences have lost out on many holidays and cruise line have delivered a great service,” she said. “Once people are on holiday, they want to know they are safe, and they also want to have a great experience.”
“We are going to make sure the comeback is stronger than the setback.”
Known as the ‘River Cruise Queen’, Jeannine Williamson is an award-winning travel writer, cruise expert and our cruise correspondent, who has clocked up thousands of nautical miles.
Photograph courtesy of CLIA and MSC Cruises