British holidaymakers have sparked a boom in cruise holidays, with luxury offerings fairing particularly strongly.
Overall 1.65 million British travellers are set to take a cruise holiday in 2010, up seven per cent when compared to 2009.
The figure also represents an increase of more than 50 per cent on numbers recorded in 2000, according to the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA).
Notably, the figures also reveal ultra luxury cruises were up 50 per cent in 2009 compared with the previous year. Some 31,000 people paid more than £5,000 each for a cruise last year, with another 200,000 spending between £2,500 and £5,000.
PSA director, William Gibbons, said: “The success of UK cruising, during one of the toughest economic periods the world has seen, can be attributed to the value and high standards of a cruise holiday.
“The all-inclusive nature of cruising and exceptional standards of quality and service are the key to our continued growth, along with the huge choice of worldwide destinations and the wide range in styles of cruising.”
But it is not just the luxury market benefiting from this growth, with one in ten package holidays now a cruise. This compares to just one in nearly 30 in 1997.
Fourteen further ships are launching this year and passenger numbers are on course to rise further still to two million by 2014, argues the PSA.
Passengers are also cruising for longer, with the average length of a cruise increasing year-on-year from ten nights to 11 nights.
Finally, the PSA Cruise Review shows Northern Europe is proving particularly popular with a 20 per cent increase in the number of Brits visiting this region, with Baltic and Norwegian Fjord itineraries top of the list, while the Caribbean saw an eight percent increase in the number of cruise.