Forecast figures released today by the Cruise Lines International Association show that a record 1.79 million British holidaymakers took a cruise in 2013 – an increase of more than five per cent on 2012.
Despite continued economic pressures on consumer spending, an additional 89,000 UK passengers took an ocean cruise in 2013.
Passenger figures are up by 21 per cent, or more than 300,000, compared to five years ago.
Globally, the number of cruise passengers is forecast to be 21.3 million in 2013 – an increase of almost two per cent over 2012, while the number of European passengers who took a cruise in 2013 is predicated to be 6.4 million – a year on year growth of more than four per cent.
The global number of cruise passengers for 2014 is forecast to be 21.7 million.
As the cruise industry sails into 2014, it continues to invest billions of pounds in new ships.
This year alone will see the launch of six ocean cruise ships worth £2.38 billion, with a capacity of 18,196 passengers.
This year and 2015 collectively will see a total of 13 ocean cruise ships launched worth more than £5 billion and accommodating over 37,000 passengers.
The cruise industry is currently worth almost £2.5 billion a year to the UK economy, and creates more than 66,000 jobs in this country.
Globally, the industry is worth US$100 billion and provides around 775,000 jobs.
Andy Harmer, director of CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “The incredible choice and diversity of a cruise is reflected in the record number of British passengers who took a holiday last year.
“Many of CLIA’s 63 member cruise lines are revitalising and investing in new ships, ensuring that guests enjoy modern, innovative ships of varying sizes, designed to cater for all ages and which offer amazing holidays to destinations around the world.”
“The travel trade has played a crucial role in the growth of the British market.
“More than 70 per cent of cruise holiday bookings in the UK are made through a travel agent, with their expert knowledge an important factor in securing each booking.
“In the year ahead, we will step up our agents training programme to ensure our 5,000 partner agents are kept fully up to date with the many new ships and cruise itineraries being introduced.”