(10:30 a.m. EDT) -- The UK remains Europe's biggest cruise market, with a 27.2% share of passenger numbers in 2013, according to figures released today by CLIA UK & Ireland.
The number of British passengers who took an ocean cruise increased by 25,000 from 2012 to hit 1.72 million last year, according to CLIA's Economic Contribution Report.
Southampton retained its position as Europe's most popular port, with the total number of passengers embarking and disembarking rising 7.5 per cent to reach 1.64 million last year. Barcelona -- which came in second -- had higher passenger numbers from day visits, but fewer embarkations and disembarkations.
The report also revealed the number of British and overseas passengers joining their cruise at a UK port passed the one million mark for the first time last year -- jumping 8 per cent to 1,062,000. The number of passengers on day visits to one of the UK's 51 cruise ports rose by 20 per cent to 866,000.
The cruise industry generated more than £2.5 billion to the UK economy last year. Europe-wide, the overall contribution of the cruise industry jumped 22% per cent to £32.03 billion ($43.45 billion).
Jo Rzymowska, Chair of CLIA UK & Ireland, said: “The cruise industry's multi-billion pound investment in UK plc is paying ever-increasing dividends for the British economy. The UK leads the field, accounting for more passengers and more jobs than any other European country and we are confident this growth in cruise travel will continue as we see new cruise ships dedicated to the UK market being introduced in 2015.”
--By Adam Coulter, UK Editor