PASSENGERS have been flocking to ferries, according to latest figures.

Britain's ferry operators carried more than 9.4m passengers in the first four months of this year, an increase of 3.5 per cent on the same period last year.

The statistics released by the Discover Ferries organisation reveal a continuing upward trend - good news for Southampton's Red Funnel Ferries and Hythe Ferry.

For January to April this year, all ferry route sectors reported growth, with crossings to continental Europe up 4.1 per cent to 4.45 million.

Figures for the whole of last year showed passenger numbers rising to 38 million, a 2.6 per cent increase on 2012.

The number of passenger cars carried by UK ferries increased by 2.4 per cent to 1.93 million, and coach numbers increased by 1.4 per cent to 39,650.

Discover Ferries director Bill Gibbons said: “This represents a positive and increasing growth trend for ferry traffic, following on from a strong 2013.

“Despite a stormy and wet and challenging opening to 2014, ferry passenger numbers have grown strongly since, with operators continuing to offer exceptionally competitive prices.”