Britain remains a nation of cruise addicts despite the Costa Concordia tragedy, new figures reveal.
More than 1,700,000 took a holiday at sea last year – and more than half of those went on two cruises. A record 374,220 booked three or more voyages, the Passenger Shipping Association announced on Tuesday.
A million cruise holidays are expected to sail from British ports this year after a record-breaking 2012, the report revealed.
Passengers increased by ten per cent to 962,000 last year despite the capsizing of the Concordia in January and the continuing recession.
Highest growth came from Southampton, Dover and, most recently, Portsmouth, on the south coast but a record 52 ports around Britain welcomed cruise ships.
More people also visited British ports – up 11 per cent to 723,000, or double the 2007 figure.
Overall, the number of Britons taking a holiday afloat edged up by only 1,000 to 1,701,000, although cruising still accounts for one in eight overseas package holidays.
The most popular destination is the Med, with 698,000 British visitors, though there was a 29 per cent surge in numbers to Northern Europe to 443,000. Nearly half of those sailed to the Norwegian fjords.
The tiny ‘ultra luxury’ sector grew by ten per cent – an extra 2,581 passengers.
PSA director William Gibbons said: ‘The past year was an impressive one for the UK cruise industry, especially in view of the combination of challenges the year presented. The increase in passenger figures bears testament to the value and diversity that cruising represents and the positive experiences that bring passengers back time and time again. We feel 2012’s record results for British ports are particularly remarkable and we very much look forward to seeing them achieve the million mark in 2013, and the associated economic benefits that this will bring to the country.’
Tonight the PSA will hold a cruise journalism awards ceremony at the Millbank Tower in London. Signal permitting, I’ll be tweeting from there on @shipmonk
Round-Britain: Silver Whisper docked at Belfast – one of the 52 British ports which welcomed cruise ships last year