The Irish Travel Agents Association (ITAA) has welcomed news of record-breaking Irish and UK cruise passenger numbers, as announced by the Cruise Lines International Association (Clia).
Surpassing 2 million passengers for the first time, the figures indicate a 2% year on year growth in passenger numbers.
The global cruise industry is continuing to strengthen, with approximately 90% of Irish and UK customers setting sail within 12 months of their first cruise.
Cruises to central and western Mediterranean regions remain the number one destination for European cruise passengers, while Clia’s research also reports strong growth in cruises to Northern Europe, the eastern Mediterranean, Canary Islands, and the Baltics.
Commenting on the figures, ITAA CEO, Pat Dawson said, "The cruise industry is demonstrating considerable growth and has become an important part of both inbound and outbound Irish tourism. By hosting turnarounds, Irish ports allow tourists to end their sailing here and travel within Ireland before flying directly home, while Irish holidaymakers join the ship to set sail on their adventure."
He added, "With growing popularity among Irish holidaymakers and such striking passenger numbers, it is disappointing that Dublin port is reducing the number of cruise liners it will host. Last year saw 150 ships call to Dublin port and we expect this to rise to over 160 by the end of 2019. However, from 2021, only 80 will be permitted by Dublin port. This is a major blow to the choice of cruise available to Irish holidaymakers."