(12:45 a.m. BST) -- Demand for cruises has surpassed levels last seen in 2019, according to data released by industry body Cruise Lines International Association to mark the start of Cruise Week on Friday (23rd).
The survey, of 4,000 domestic and international travellers, shows intent to book a cruise for UK passengers now exceeds levels from three years ago, with 85% of respondents who have cruised previously said they intend to cruise again -- a 6% increase from 2019.
The results also showed of those travellers who have taken a cruise in the last six months, 90% said they intend to cruise again -- again higher than in 2019. And of those who have never cruised, 66% are open to cruising, a 0.5% increase from 2019.
"It is the start of Cruise Week, so a very exciting day for us," said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland managing director.
"We held a small-scale Cruise Week last year, but it's much more important this year because cruising has had such a successful year to date."
Cruise Week is when lines release deals and offers primarily to cruise specialist agents.
"It's been a very successful year for our cruise industry this year -- 16 new ocean ships, 12 new river ships and six ships still to launch.
"So it's been a great year, not just to see ships back in the water, but new ships adding to that capacity."
His words were echoed by those on the CLIA Executive Committee member Rob Scott, VP Brand, Product, of P&O Cruises:
"Talking about bringing people new to cruise and maintaining past guests -- in May this year we saw our highest-ever new to cruise bookings which is incredibly reassuring.
"And this year was Iona's first fjords season and a lot of those newcomers are choosing those fjords cruises."
Scott said Arvia, Iona's sister, which launches in December, would further increase capacity and bookings.
Eithne Williamson, VP Princess Cruises, added:
"Our bookings for UK and fly-Med cruises for 2022 are double that of 2019, and we are expecting 2023 bookings to continue that trend."
She put a lot of that demand down to last year's "seacations" which attracted a lot of new to cruise as land-based holidays were either sold out or too expensive.
Other stats include:
Overall, 69% of international cruise holidaymakers stayed at least one night in their local destination prior to embarkation, with 43% extending the stay by two or more nights.
And 67% stayed at least one night after disembarkation, with 34% extending by two or more nights.
60% said they later returned to a destination they had first visited by cruise.
Harmer added: "This year has been enormously encouraging for cruise, and it's heartening to see demand for a holiday at sea is set to continue. The sheer number of repeat passengers we’re anticipating, combined with interest from those yet to sail, means the appeal of going on a cruise remains as strong as ever."
The sentiment data is based on an independent, international survey of 4,000 holidaymakers in eight countries: the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA, Canada and Australia.