EDINBURGH, Scotland – Scots are Britain’s biggest spenders on cruise ship holidays, one of the world’s largest operators has revealed.
Scottish passengers book more expensive cabins than those south of the Border and shell out more on board.
They are also the most likely to go on another cruise two years later – and pay even more for it.
Royal Caribbean International said it would now try to lure even more Scots aboard by launching a development fund to encourage more travel agents to sell cruise holidays.
UK managing director Stuart Leven said the drive came ahead of the firm adding £3 billion worth of new ships in the next four years, with the latest giant vessel joining next month.
Mr Leven told the Scottish Passenger Agents Association’s (SPAA) annual dinner in Glasgow cruise prices were coming down but the number of passengers was not growing – with the prospect of many extra cabins to fill. He wants to do this by transforming the image of the cruise holiday to broaden its appeal from the perceived “newly wed or nearly dead” clientele.
The Scot said: “We think there is a lot of money to be made and a lot of happy customers.”
New on-board attractions include sky dive machines, zip wires and dodgems. Consumer rating website CruiseCritic, said the first two major new ships would arrive this year.
Managing editor Colleen McDaniel said: “With a number of ship launches scheduled over the next few years, and an estimated rise in passenger numbers for 2015, it’s exciting to see the industry continue to grow.
“P&O Cruises’ Britannia – the biggest ship ever built for the UK market – and Royal Caribbean’s Anthem of the Seas will both launch this year.”
CruiseCritic described the 4,200-passenger Quantum of the Seas as a “technologically-advanced ship which offers exceptional cabins, entertainment and activities”, but said its reservations system restricted passenger freedom. Anthem will join the fleet in April, with a third ship, Ovation of the Seas, following next year.
The 3,600-passenger Britannia, the biggest ship in P&O’s fleet, is due to be named by the Queen in Southampton next week. It will include the first cookery school on board a British ship, featuring celebrity chefs such as James Martin.
SPAA council member and cruise specialist Kennedy Cree said the cruise market had grown steadily in Scotland over the past five years – but the industry saw scope for attracting more business.
Mr Cree, who is also general manager of Scotia Travel in Glasgow, said: “It is the big thing in travel at the moment, but there is overcapacity.
“Passengers have never had it so good, with so many different places to go. Every major operator is building new ships, and trying to find something different to offer, with Royal Caribbean the trend-setters.
“They provide a ‘resort feel’ to their ships – providing as much aboard as you would find on land.”