WHAT ARE THE LATEST HOLIDAY TRENDS?
According to a recent ABTA survey, almost 9 out of 10 people took a holiday in the 12 months to August 2018. Despite recent phenomena like the ‘staycation’ it looks like the vast majority of people in the UK like to look forward to a proper break. The same survey suggests that, although we’re taking slightly fewer holidays and, specifically, fewer short breaks, the number of people looking for a holiday break of at least a week, is on the up.
As well as taking slightly longer breaks, we’re still keen on foreign holidays too, although we’re also watching our pennies when it comes to holiday spending. Finally, it seems that cruising continues to go from strength to strength, with the survey suggesting that as many as 1 in 12 have booked cruises in the last 12 months, whilst 1 in 8 will be planning a cruise.
WHEN WAS CRUISING INVENTED – WHERE DO CRUISES FIT IN OUR HOLIDAY HERITAGE?
So, where did it all begin and who were the holiday pioneers? The roots of the British holiday go back a long way but, in the light of recent events, we simply can’t ignore the influence of Thomas Cook, the man who gave his name to the most famous holiday firm of all. Sadly, the company that Thomas Cook founded is no more, but the legacy remains and dates back to 1841 when a ‘package tour’ was organised for members of the Temperance Movement in the East Midlands.
A few years later, ‘cruises’ to the Mediterranean had started to appear and, as the idea took hold, another holiday staple was born. In a few crucial years, the 19th century had given rise to two key holiday concepts that are with us and, certainly in the case of cruising, still thriving to this day.
SO, WHEN DID WE ALL FALL IN LOVE WITH OUR HOLIDAYS?
The early packages created by Thomas Cook and the nascent cruise market to the Mediterranean were not everyman holidays, however. The more popular take on the Victorian holiday would have involved a trip to the seaside and resorts like Blackpool, Brighton and Southend. These classic outings for ordinary working folk would have involved all the trappings of the Victorian seaside, including bathing machines, pleasure piers and Punch and Judy shows. The late 19th century saw the rise of the seaside resorts that catered for the new, emerging working class and their desire for some respite from factory work.
The Victorian resorts offered a welcome, if occasionally rather bracing, lungful of fresh sea and, aside from the beaches, there were pleasure gardens, exhibitions even purpose-built lagoons with gondolas! When the sun went down, the now thrillingly illuminated resorts offered what became known as ‘pleasure palaces’ where the popular music-hall acts from the cities were transposed to the seaside.
HOW DID THE MODERN HOLIDAY COME ABOUT IN THE UK?
These days we’re all apt to exclaim that we really need a holiday. Yet, after the Second World War an exhausted nation certainly deserved a break. Luckily, Billy Butlin came to their rescue, having pioneered the holiday camp as early as 1936. Ironically enough, the new holiday camps were often repurposed military bases. Indeed, a certain Fred Pontin bought his first military base in the 1940s and set about building an empire of holiday camps. By the 1960s the holiday camps had moved on and become sophisticated businesses offering all manner of facilities and entertainment. Yet, even before the 60s, the first package holidays coupled with charter flights had started to appear and suddenly a new wave of holiday was upon us.
WHEN DID CRUISING BECOME FASHIONABLE AGAIN?
While the 1970s saw people flocking to Spain aboard a new generation of small, commercial jet aircraft, their larger siblings were doing a (literally) roaring trade bringing trans-Atlantic travel within the reach of more and more people. Entrepreneurs like Freddie Laker – we’d call him a ‘disruptor’ these days - ensured that prices fell further and, with the notable exception of the celebrity patronised QEII, this pretty much finished off the great liners that were the direct descendants of the glamorous pre-war ‘Blue Ribbon’ era.
This presented the remaining ship owners with the dilemma of what to do with their now, largely surplus, tonnage. Ships like SS Canberra that had been built back in the early 60s to take emigrants to Australia, were swiftly converted into cruise ships and both Canberra and QEII found further fame as troop carriers when they were requisitioned during the Falklands War. In Italy the Lauro line was founded. Lauro were later bought by MSC to form MSC Cruises who would swiftly go on to become the largest privately owned cruise company in the world with a fleet of ultra-modern cruise ships.
Meanwhile, in the United States, the market became dominated by shorter cruises for a budget-conscious and, relatively, time-poor American audience. Whilst in the UK a burgeoning market, hitherto serviced by venerable older vessels, stated to enjoy the arrival of brand new, dedicated cruise ships, conceived specifically for British passengers. By the mid-1990s, the cruise boom was well and truly underway!
IS THERE A CRUISE FOR EVERYONE?
As the survey suggests, a cruise is now on the menu of more and more people. Cruising has become a mainstream holiday choice and, although you can spend almost as much as you like on the ultimate in luxury and pampering, it’s also perceived as a holiday that offers great value for money too. The level of inclusivity that a cruise can offer also chimes with our desire to exert a bit more control on our holiday spending, whilst the high standards of food, service and entertainment all help to encourage a level of repeat booking that are amongst the highest to be found anywhere in the hospitality industry.
If you’re amongst the 1 in 8 people currently planning a cruise, or one of the many still to take the plunge, then, in terms of sheer value, there’s never been a better time to be looking to book a cruise holiday. The choice is as broad as it’s ever been, from the last word in high-end luxury, to short sample cruises and longer, family oriented holidays at sea.
Is there a cruise holiday for you? Well, it’s best if you decide that for yourself, but, given the value and choice on offer, the answer is likely to be somewhere between probably and almost certainly! Why not take a look at our website and see whether we have the kind of cruise holidays that are just what you’re looking for?