More young travellers take to the high seas
By AMY CHEW
THE growing number of younger travellers with diverse economic backgrounds taking part in cruise holidays has led to the formation of the International Cruise Council (ICC).
A recent study showed cruises were no longer catering predominantly to affluent retirees.
The cruise industry is beginning to see passengers of every age and socio-economic background, with their average age dropping from 58 to 43 over the past five years.
It is estimated that Hong Kong residents took about 1.5 million pleasure trips this year.
ICC chairman Alan Wong said: ''We are all very enthusiastic because cruises are rapidly gaining in popularity around the world, and research in Hong Kong shows that it has great potential here.'' The study revealed that 92 per cent of Hong Kong holiday-makers were interested in taking ''fly cruises'', in which they would first fly to a destination before taking a cruise.
Forty per cent were interested in taking cruises from Hong Kong.
The enthusiasts for fly-cruises were aged between 25 and 34 years and attracted to fun resorts.
Opportunities to promote cruise holidays in the territory appear to be abundant.
The report said the ability to visit a number of places while still being able to rest and relax in comfort and luxury might be the reason for the high level of interest in fly-cruises.
Cruise liners offer similar facilities to resorts, with facilities such as health spas, games, discotheques and casinos.
It is believed that cruises appeal as a new, sophisticated, cost-competitive alternative to traditional holidays.
Short cruises are also attractive as they suit Hong Kong travellers.
The global cruise market has been growing at an annual rate of 10 per cent since the early 1980s with the United States providing more than four out of every five passengers.
More than half of the all world cruises are done in the Caribbean.
But the Asian market is growing significantly as more ships visit and are based in the region.
Cruise lines are expected to expand their capacities as larger ships become the norm.
The ICC was formed by nine leading cruise lines and their Hong Kong agents.
They are Carnival Cruise Lines, Club Med, Cunard American International Cruises, Orient Lines, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Royal Cruise Line, Royal Viking Line and Star Cruise.
''These cruise lines represent almost half the world's cruise passenger capacity,'' said Mr Wong.
''We expect other cruise lines to join the council once we get under way,'' he said.