The ash cloud crisis continues to cause uncertainty as we see sporadic closures of airspace and cancelled flights, and this uncertainty is leading the public to consider alternative holidays and means of travel, with ferries being seen as a reliable option.
The shutdown of airspace in April saw the ferry industry working at its best in time of need – stepping in to carry more than 300,000 additional passengers. PSA ferry members pulled out all the stops with increased capacity and extra services. On routes between the UK and Continental Europe, there was nearly a 13 per cent increase in the number of passengers compared with April 2009, while on routes between UK and Ireland there was a 16 per cent upsurge. The crisis has demonstrated the robustness and flexibility of ferry services.
Since the volcano crisis first began, operators have experienced increased bookings as ferries are seen as a more reliable and comfortable option than planes to get them to and from their holiday destination. In fact, just a few weeks ago Stena Line introduced the first of two new superferries, the largest of their type, sailing between Harwich and Hook of Holland. Each can carry 230 cars, 300 freight vehicles and have 1,376 beds with customers enjoying everything from buffet and a la carte restaurants, to cinemas and media rooms. More than £375 million has been spent on building Stena Hollandica which came into service on 16 May and Stena Britannica which will follow in the autumn.
Meanwhile, the ash crisis has also highlighted the benefits of taking a cruise holiday from a UK port. Figures released by the PSA within The Cruise Review show a continued rise in the number of UK passengers cruising from a British port. More than 730,000 passengers sailed from the UK in 2009, a figure which has almost doubled since 2003.
One in ten package holidays booked is now a cruise, compared with one in nearly 30 in 1997. The sheer diversity of the cruise market means there is a holiday for everyone, whether it’s a cruise departing from the UK, an ultraluxury experience in the Caribbean, a cultural river cruise or a photographic expedition to the Fjords, many more people are getting onboard to discover a world of cruising.
It’s a great reflection on the cruise industry that during one of the toughest economic periods the world has seen, the number of passengers continues to grow and this is down to the value and high standards of a cruise holiday.
More on this and other news in Sea Breezes Magazine - July 2010 Issue
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