A RECORD number of holidaymakers opted for a life on the ocean waves in 2006, figures showed. The surge in holidays afloat makes cruising one of the fastest-growing tourist sectors, according to the Passenger Shipping Association. By next year, it predicted 1.35 million Britons will take to the water, be it in an ocean liner or riverboat cruiser.
Part of the growth has been driven by the development of ever-larger ships that has heralded the economies of scale, reducing prices to the level at which cruises can now compete with many land-based holidays.
The British market has been growing so strongly that it is now the second largest after the US.
Underlining that importance, the latest example of a new breed of super ship, Royal Caribbean’s 160,000 tonnes Freedom of the Seas, made its inaugural trip to New York from Southampton earlier this year.
The sector, once seen as the preserve of the elderly and wealthy, has attempted to broaden its appeal in recent years. As a result, the average age of cruisers is now down to 53 years and falling.