FIGURES released last night by CRuise Lines International Association (CLIA UK & Ireland ) show that 2013 was another record year for the UK cruise market, with continued growth and port embarkations passing the one million mark for the first time.

The number of British and overseas passengers joining their cruise at a UK port grew ten per cent to 1,062,000 in 2013, whilst the number of passengers on day visits to one of the UK’s 51 cruise ports jumped by 20 per cent to 866,000.

The number of British passengers showed an additional 25,000 (1.5 per cent) in 2013. The UK retains its position as Europe’s No. 1 market accounting for 27 per cent of cruise passengers and, globally, is second only to North America.

The number of Euro-peans taking an ocean cruise grew four per cent in 2013 to 6.357 million, whilst the growth since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 has been 43 per cent.

A cruise in the Mediter-ranean remained the most popular holiday choice for British passengers, accounting for 644,000 of them, although is set to be overtaken by Northern Europe which is now the destination of choice for one in three UK passengers having jumped 20 per cent to 531,000 UK passengers in 2013. This continues a trend of spectacular growth for this region over the past decade during which passenger numbers have grown fivefold.

Within Northern Europe, Norway stands out particularly, with the number of passengers visiting the country on cruises departing from the UK leaping from 37,000 to 218,000 in just ten years.

Andy Harmer, Director CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “Momentum has returned to the UK cruise market in 2013 with significant growth in passengers numbers and especially in embarkations from our home ports – both of which are impressive achievements when set against a backdrop of an economy that has proven slow to recover.

“The cruise industry’s continued confidence in the UK market is clearly demonstrated by the increasing number of ships that will sail from British ports in the coming years, and we believe this marks a key point in the continuing growth of the UK cruise market.”