Figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association show that a record 1,789,000 passengers from UK and Ireland took an ocean cruise in 2015, a nine per cent rise year on year and the highest increase in seven years.
UK and Ireland, which saw 145,000 more passengers take a cruise in 2015, also has the highest growth rate out of all the major European countries and the size of the market has grown by two-thirds (67 per cent) in the ten years since 2005.
The number of Europeans taking an ocean cruise holiday has also grown - since 2008, the market has increased by 49 per cent, proving both the cruise industry’s resilience to economic downturns and the value provided by a cruise holiday.
This amounts to a six per cent average annual growth rate over the past seven years.
In fact, according to industry research, over the ten years from 2004 to 2014, global cruse holidays have grown faster in popularity than global land-based holidays by a 20 per cent margin.
A cruise in the Mediterranean remained the most popular holiday choice for Brits, accounting for 672,000 passengers although the Atlantic Islands (Canaries and Madeira) had the best ever year with a record 188,000 passengers.
Meanwhile the Caribbean reclaimed more passengers after a three year lull and experienced an increase of 15 per cent, the highest The number of UK passengers starting their cruise at home rather than overseas grew strongly in 2015 with UK cruise departures now accounting for 47 per cent of the market (840,000 passengers in 2015).
It was another successful year for British ports overall; in total over one million UK and international passengers visited a British port during a cruise, a figure that has more than doubled in six years.
This growth comes at a time of sustained investment by the cruise industry.