Portsmouth’s port helps drive up the number of cruise passengers

Classic International Cruises Athena
Classic International Cruises Athena
Daniel Williams as King Charles I at Portsmouth Car Ferry Terminal, Gunwharf. Picture: Byron Melton

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PORTSMOUTH International Port has been named as one of the UK’s ports that is the most responsible for a 10 per cent increase in passenger numbers.

According to figures published today by the Passenger Shipping Association, the number of people choosing to cruise rose by 10 per cent in 2012 to 962,000.

There was also a big increase - of 11 per cent - in the number of passengers visiting UK ports during their cruises in 2012.

In total, 723,000 holidaymakers visited UK ports last year - double the 2007 figure.

The big increase in port activity was driven by the south coast ports of Southampton, Dover and Portsmouth.

Though still only a fledgling port in terms of cruise ship activity, the launch of Portsmouth International Port’s new passenger terminal in 2011, specifically designed for cruise passengers, has attracted increasing numbers of cruise ships.

As previously reported in The News, 2012 saw 34 cruise ships visit the port – and that figure is set to rise to 50 in 2013 – a record high.

Nationally, this fourth increase in passenger numbers means British ports are on course to hit the million mark this year.

PSA director William Gibbons said: ‘The past year was an impressive one for the UK cruise industry, especially in view of the combination of challenges the year presented.

‘We feel 2012’s record results for British ports are particularly remarkable and we very much look forward to seeing UK ports achieve the million mark in 2013, and the associated economic benefits that this will bring to the country.’

Of the 1,701,000 UK holidaymakers who went on cruises, nearly 700,000 embarked on a Mediterranean trip. Northern Europe cruise passenger numbers rose 30 per cent to 443,000 in 2012, with Norwegian fjords voyages proving particularly popular.

In the top-of-the-range market - known as ultra-luxury cruising - there was a 30 per cent surge in summer sales last year.

The number of Britons who took more than one cruise last year increased by 12 per cent to 54 per cent, while a record 374,220 booked three or more cruises in 2012.

Most cruise passengers last year lived in southern England, with more than 187,000 coming from Scotland, more than 102,000 from Wales and just over 34,000 from Northern Ireland.

The first ship to call in at Portsmouth after the new terminal was opened was the Athena (pictured), run by Classic International Cruises, following a 40-day cruise from Australia.