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Young Cruises

British holidaymakers of all ages are turning their attention to cruises: a growing number 15 to 24 year olds see them as a good way to meet new faces and visit new places.

With summertime just around the corner, it’s time for many of us to start thinking about our annual break in foreign climes.

And while cruises are often associated with older travellers, new research reveals that they are now appealing to younger consumers too – with 40% of 15-24 year olds planning to take to the high seas.

And while only a minority of young Brits have ever been on a cruise, compared to 32% of 65-74 year olds, more than a third of 15-24s see them as a good way of visiting different destinations, while over a quarter think they’re a good way to meet new people.

Overall, while consumers have cut down on spending in the current economic climate, the Mintel research concludes that the luxury cruise market has been immune to recession.

Indeed, Brits have quite literally pushed the boat out with ultra-luxury cruises, with an increase of eight per cent last year and 40% over the past five years.

Sea cruises have also increased in popularity by 41% in the past five years from 1.2 million to 1.7 million trips. In terms of value, it increased by 57% between 2006 and 2011, in a context that saw the overall overseas holidays spend decline by nine per cent.

Despite the recent Concordia tragedy, it appears Brits are still willing to set sail with only one in nine UK travellers deterred from taking a cruise as a result.  And over a third of Brits – around 17.5 million people – say they are open to future voyages, with one in four people possible first-timers.

Tom Rees, Mintel senior travel and tourism analyst, says: “Young adults like the idea of an adventure at sea and the house party atmosphere of an onboard holiday can appeal to many young package holidaymakers as a change from resort-based trips.

“The key is getting the product right. Given the market trend towards shorter cruises departing from UK ports, short-themed breaks or even floating music festivals, promoted through social media, can be a way to attract a younger clientele.”

The research ties into Mintel Inspire’s Slow It All Down trend, which forecasts the growing need among consumers to take time to relax as a counter to our fast and 24/7 on-demand service culture. Half of cruisers say they chose to set sail to escape the daily grind while three in 10 potential first-timers seeing a cruise as a hassle-free, relaxing holiday.

Mintel senior trends analyst Catherine McColl says: “Mintel’s Slow It All Down trend suggests that emphasising the slow ethos is going to be an even more important marketing theme in future years.

“The growth in UK port departures offers an opportunity to brand cruise as a stress-free, aviation-free adventure. Operators can take this to the ultimate by offering complete home-to-embarkation point services using taxis and luxury coach/first class train travel to provide a seamless package where the holiday begins as soon as the customer opens the front door.”

River cruises are also gaining momentum on the UK holidaymaker’s wish list with a seven per cent jump in European river cruises last year, following a nine per cent rise in 2010. However, while only one in 12 have ever been on a river cruise, up to a third of consumers are interested in taking one in the future.

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