Record Year Expected For Cruise Industry

New figures predict a record million people will leave the UK on cruises this year.

Last year saw numbers rise 10% to a new high of 962,000, the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA) said.

There was also a big increase - of 11% - in the number of passengers visiting UK ports during their cruises in 2012.

In total, 723,000 holidaymakers visited UK ports last year - double the 2007 figure.

The big increase in port activity was driven by the south coast ports of Southampton, Dover and Portsmouth.

Last year, which began with the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster which claimed 32 lives, saw only a small increase in the number of UK passengers taking a cruise holiday - up by just 1,000.

Of the 1,701,000 UK holidaymakers who went on cruises, nearly 700,000 embarked on a Mediterranean trip. Northern Europe cruise passenger numbers rose 30% to 443,000 in 2012, with Norwegian fjords voyages proving particularly popular.

In the top-of-the-range market - known as ultra-luxury cruising - there was a 30% surge in summer sales last year.

The number of Britons who took more than one cruise last year increased by 12% to 54%, while a record 374,220 booked three or more cruises in 2012.

Most cruise passengers last year lived in southern England, with more than 187,000 coming from Scotland, more than 102,000 from Wales and just over 34,000 from Northern Ireland.

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.

"We feel 2012's record results for British ports are particularly remarkable and we very much look forward to seeing UK ports achieve the million mark in 2013, and the associated economic benefits that this will bring to the country.''