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Rush for autumn cruises after dismal UK summer

Prices for Marella voyages are 11 per cent up on 2022

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Tuesday 19 September 2023 11:09 BST
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Sailing by: Marella Discovery, part of the Tui fleet for the UK market
Sailing by: Marella Discovery, part of the Tui fleet for the UK market (Tui)

The washout summer in the UK has boosted bookings for autumn cruises – increasing occupancy by 9 per cent and pushing up prices by 11 per cent compared with last year.

The figures are revealed by the giant travel firm Tui in a pre-close trading statement.

“Poorer summer weather in the source markets has boosted bookings and demand in autumn at higher rates,” Tui says.

Research by The Independent shows some high prices for what is normally an off-peak time of year on the Tui UK cruise brand, Marella.

On an early October one-week cruise from Palma on the Spanish island of Mallorca. visiting Italy and Corsica, only a “Grand Suite Cabin” is available, at a price of £1,697 per person including flights to and from Liverpool.

A mid-October week in the eastern Mediterranean, visiting four Greek islands plus Kusadasi in Turkey, is £1,582 for a balcony cabin including flights from Gatwick.

The cheapest October cruise is a five-night voyage from Corfu via Palermo and Alicante to Malaga for £723, including flights to and from East Midlands.

Last month Norwegian Cruise Line reported record revenue between April and June, one-third up on the same spell in 2023.

More widely, travel agents belonging to the Advantage Travel Partnership are reporting solid sales.

“In the lead up to October half term and Christmas, demand remains strong,” said the chief executive of Advantage, Julia Lo Bue-Said.

“Last week across our agent partners, bookings were up 10 per cent on the same week last year.”

The Scottish travel agency chain, Barrhead Travel, reports one-third of all its new bookings are for winter 2023.

The company’s president, Jacqueline Dobson, said: “It’s a clear indication that people are keen to make up for lost holidays – and escape some of the wet weather we’ve been seeing in the UK over the summer months.”

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