British and Irish passengers are cruising for longer and travelling further afield, according to latest Clia figures.

The cruise trade association released figures yesterday (April 15) showing passenger numbers from the UK and Ireland hit 2,009,000 last year.

In 2018, the average cruise duration was 10.1 days, with the number of 14-day sailings taken last year increasing by 5%.

Short ‘taster’ cruises also grew, with 149,000 passengers taking one to three-day cruises – a rise of 29,000 from 2017.

The number of week-long cruises increased by 3% year-on-year.

The Channel Islands, Amsterdam and Bruges were all cited as popular destinations to cruise to on ‘taster’ sailings by Clia UK & Ireland director Andy Harmer.

While Europe remains the most popular choice for British and Irish passengers, making up 70% of all cruises taken, there has been a significant increase in the number of exploration cruises.

Exploration cruise bookings rose from 22,000 in 2017 to 32,000 in 2018 – a rise of 44%.

Cruises in South America and Panama Canal grew by 29% to 26,000 and in Asia and China the number grew by 41% from 45,000 in 2017 to 63,000 in 2018.

Harmer said: “Increasingly, we are looking further afield as our desire to explore new places continues to rise.

“As a result, with thanks to global deployment, the number of British and Irish cruising to Asia, North and South America and on world cruises is rapidly growing.”

Clia UK & Ireland chairman Tony Roberts hailed the benefits of agents and cruise lines working together to encourage new passengers to take a cruise.

He said: “Every single cruise line knows the importance of the trade.

“Cruise lines also know that the travel trade also brings in new to cruise passengers. Individual cruise lines have different strategies which travel agents have benefited from.”

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