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More than one million passengers expected to start their holidays in Southampton's port
More than half of all British passengers taking a cruise this year will choose Southampton as their port of embarkation.
Latest figures from the cruising industry predict that, for the first time, more than one million people will join vessels beginning cruises from UK departure points.
According to the cruising industry’s trade body, the Passenger Shipping Association (PSA), nationwide passenger embarkations in 2012 increased by ten per cent to a total of 962,000, with 78,000 extra UK and 6,000 additional overseas passengers.
The most substantial increase was recorded in Southampton, which can largely be attributed to the ease of access to the ships for those living in the south.
Southampton will again lead the way in 2013 with well in excess of 500,000 people passing through the city to join a total of about 430 separate cruise ship calls this year.
There was a similar increase in passengers visiting UK ports during their cruises.
The 11 per cent rise saw 723,000 passengers call at British ports, double the 2007 figure.
Taking the cruise industry as a whole, including departures from overseas ports, last year saw more British passengers taking an ocean cruise holiday than ever before, with an additional 1,000 bringing the total to 1,701,000. A spokesman for the PSA said: “The figure is indicative of the loyalty of cruise passengers, given the challenging nature of the year which opened with the Concordia tragedy and saw the UK economy dip into recession. “Cruises continue to account for one in every eight of all overseas package holidays.
“As in previous years the most popular destination was the Mediterranean, which saw 698,000 British passengers visiting the region. “However the noticeable trend was an increased appetite for cruising to northern Europe which experienced a 29 per cent upsurge with 443,000 passengers, up from 342,000 the previous year.” The number of British passengers who took more than one cruise in 2012 increased by 12 percentage points to 54 per cent, with 374,220 people – the highest ever – booking three or more cruises within the year.
PSA director William Gibbons said: “We feel 2012’s record results for British ports are particularly remarkable and we very much look forward to seeing UK ports achieve the million mark in 2013, and the associated economic benefits that this will bring to the country.”