TRAVEL firms are predicting the cruising boom will continue in 2014 with Southampton benefitting from the growing market.

Figures show that cruise passenger numbers were up five per cent last year with more than 1.7m people booking a break in 2013.

That trend is set to continue says travel firm World Travel Holdings, with holidaymakers preferring to depart from UK ports rather than choosing a fly-cruise option.

The group has released trends it has recorded for the cruising industry and predications for the coming year. They include: * Top destinations for 2014 cruise holidays are Ist-anbul, Athens, Rome and Venice * Fortnight long trips sailing around the Medit-erranean to Spanish and Italian ports are selling well * 20 per cent more people this year are booking trips lasting longer than the traditional fortnight * Cruisers are willing to spend a bit more on their holiday, with the average spend up on last year There is also a surge in demand for luxury cruises with one high end company seeing more than 40 per cent growth to far off destinations in the Far East, Australia and the South Pacific. Luxury river cruises on rivers such as the Danube are also enjoying increased popularity.

James Cole, managing director of World Travel Holdings (UK), said: “It’s clear that despite most households having to keep a close watch on their finances the annual family two week break is still something they are reluctant to give up. Indeed this information shows that many are branching out and enjoying the multi-destination experience a cruise holiday has to offer.

“The luxury end of the market remains buoyant and river cruises are also proving increasingly popular of late due to the smaller ships on offer providing a unique perspective on some of the world’s most stunning riverside scenery.”

“All the signs are there for a very encouraging 2014”.