Tui UK cruise bookings in January and February ‘absolutely flying’  

Tui UK and Ireland is eyeing further growth in the ocean and river cruise markets as it reported a strong ‘wave’ period at the start of 2023.

Richard Sofer, Tui UK and Ireland commercial and business development director, told Travel Weekly: “What is fantastic is seeing how well cruise is performing.

“It obviously went through a very tough period with the pandemic but the bookings for January and February have been absolutely flying – and not just for the existing summer seasons but also for winter and for summer next year

“They’re even further ahead of where they were previously were.”

Tui UK’s ocean line, Marella Cruises, is adding a fifth ship in May, called Marella Voyager, while there are three vessels in the river cruises fleet.

Asked if the company will add more vessels, he replied: “It is always based on getting the right ships, at the right price, that we think is going to suit our customers.”

He said the firm hopes to offer “plenty more rivers outside Europe” as well, and the ocean-going ships can offer new destinations and fresh facilities every couple of years after being in drydock.

Currently, there are no ex-UK cruises and he said there may be opportunities in the future to offer sailings from the UK as the fleet grows.

However, Andrew Flintham, managing director for Tui UK and Ireland, said the “downside” of ex-UK cruises is the amount of time spent cruising to somewhere with warm, sunnier weather.

“There clearly are significant advantages to fly-cruise…to maximise the benefit you get from the trip, in terms of being actually in the destination as opposed to transit,” he said.

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