CRUISE ship operators are celebrating today after it was revealed that 2015 was a record year for the industry.

Southampton and other UK ports saw the number of cruise passengers soar by nine per cent to 1.8 million – the biggest increase since the 2008 financial crisis started.

The rise means the size of the market has grown by 67 per cent since 2005 – more than two-thirds.

Last year the number of passengers visiting a British port during a cruise topped the one million mark for the first time, while the number of people joining their cruise ship in the UK was up 13 per cent on the previous year.

And nearly two-thirds of passengers enjoyed more than one voyage – the highest number of “multiple cruisers” for a decade.

Daily Echo:

The figures, revealed in the latest annual review by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), are good news for Southampton docks and the city-based Carnival Cruises.

Part of the increase is attributed to new ships such as the 143,000-ton Britannia, which embarked on her maiden voyage from Southampton last year.

P&O Cruises’s flagship was given the royal seal of approval when the Queen visited the city’s Ocean Terminal to officially name the world’s newest cruise ship.

The review says: “In 2015 the arrival of brand new ships like Britannia and Anthem of the Seas combined to fuel the nine per cent increase.

“In 2015, cruising represented more than 10 per cent of the package tour business, nearly treble the share it had in 2001. Its share of the overall foreign holidays market has more than doubled in the same period.”

The review says one of the factors fuelling the growth rate in the industry is value for money.

“In 2015 consumers paid just £7 per day more for their cruises than they did back in 2014.

“But the most remarkable feature of pricing remains its value, with like-for-like prices hardly changing at all over the past decade. In fact, the average per day in 2008 was £1 higher than 2015’s £134.”

The review says value for money also explains the steady rise in sales for the “ultra luxury” brands.

It adds: “As the world’s cruise industry continues to invest, innovate and expand fleet sizes to attract greater numbers of guests, the UK is also looking forward to the arrival of new ships.

“These developments should lead to more cruises being sold and more records being broken for the UK and Ireland cruise industry.”