Nearly 1.8 million passengers from UK and Ireland took an ocean cruise in 2015, a 9% year-on-year rise and the highest increase in seven years, according to new figures released by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
An additional 145,000 Britons took a cruise last year, increasing the size of the UK and Ireland cruise market by 67% since 2005. This is the highest growth rate among all of the major European countries.
Mediterranean cruises remained most popular with 672,000 Britons choosing to visit the region, while a record 188,000 sailed to the Canary Islands and Madeira. Meanwhile, 15% more passengers opted for Caribbean cruises, the highest increase since 2011.
The number of people starting their cruise from a UK port also increased by 12% to 840,000 and UK cruise departures now account for 47% of the global market.
In addition, more than one million UK and international passengers visited a British port during their cruise, a figure that has more than doubled in six years.
“The past year was an impressive one for the UK and Ireland cruise industry,” said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK and Ireland director. “The increase in passenger figures bears testament to the diversity that cruising offers to today’s holidaymakers. The cruise industry’s continued confidence in the UK market is clearly demonstrated by an increasing number of ships that will sail from British ports in the coming years.”
European cruise figures are also at an all-time high as 6.6 million Europeans cruised in 2015, 200,000 more than in 2014. In total, the number of Europeans taking an ocean cruise has risen by an average of 6% per year since the start of the global economic downturn in 2008, amounting to a total 49% growth.