Attractions in the UAE, Jordan and Qatar listed as contributing factors in continued upward trajectory
Demand for cruises within the Middle East and Indian Ocean has almost doubled over the past year in the UK market.
According to Dave Mills, chief commercial officer for Iglu Cruise, the UK's largest independent cruise agent, the increase can be attributed, in part, to the addition of Doha in Qatar becoming a port of call and stop-over destination.
Iglu Cruise also noted that regional attractions, including Jordan’s Petra, Dubai’s Burj Khalifa and Abu Dhabi’s Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque had recently been awarded The Travellers Choice Best of the Best on TripAdvisor in 2023, which has impacted upward demand among UK-based cruise passengers.
The analysis is based on Iglu Cruise’s booking data, which shows the cruising destinations that have seen the biggest increase in visitor numbers in 2023 compared to 2022. A 90.6% increase puts the Middle East in sixth place. Seeing the most increase in demand is North America, up 592% in 2023 compared to 2022.
Dave Mills, chief commercial officer said: “We’ve seen some very exciting new ships launched in 2023, such as Disney Wish, sailing from popular US ports such as Miami and Orlando. This could have been attributed to the huge increase in demand for cruises in North America.”
Miami, Florida, remains the busiest cruise port in the world, with over five million visitors each year.
Demand for cruising in Africa has increased by 253% in 2023 compared to 2022; Arctic cruising increased by 201.3%; South America saw demand rise by 149.1%, and demand in Asia increased by 98.5%.
Cruise continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors in tourism. Some 36 million cruise passengers are expected to sail globally in 2024, up by 14% in 2023, according to a report by the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). The report also states that 86% of travellers who have previously been on a cruise plan to cruise again, which is 6% higher than pre-pandemic levels.