The business last year expanded by more than 25 per cent in passenger numbers to 350,000. One reason is the entry of Airtours, bringing low- price, high-volume expertise to a sector previously the preserve of the wealthy. It began Mediterranean cruises a year ago and, despite some initial hiccups, has been a success. Airtours passengers visiting the Canaries and Morocco over Easter have paid pounds 479 each, compared to pounds 21,500 for a world cruise on Royal Viking Sun. A much larger company, the US- based Carnival Cruise Line, has taken a substantial holding in Airtours.
Britain's biggest tour operator, Thomson, is about to enter the cruise market with a programme mirroring Airtours' approach in Europe. The Disney Corporation has moved in too.Reuse content