According to the 2018 Cruise Review, released by Cruise Lines International Association, the number grew to 2,009,000 last year, two per cent more than in 2017.
Within Europe, only Germany has already topped the two million mark. The UK hadn’t been expected to beat the two million mark until this year.
“As only the second European market to reach over two million cruises and the fourth globally, this figure demonstrates the continued strength of cruising as a mainstream holiday choice in the UK and Ireland and is a testament to the industry’s resilience to economic and political changes,” said Andy Harmer, CLIA UK & Ireland director.
He said cruise sales have been more resilient to recent Brexit uncertainty because cruises are generally booked further in advance and because customers understand the cruise industry is used to dealing with the needs of multiple nationalities with different visa requirements.
Globally, the number of ocean cruises taken grew by just under seven per cent to 28.5 million passengers. Meanwhile European ocean cruise passenger numbers grew by 3.3 per cent to 7.17million, higher than the two per cent growth the year before.
In Europe as a whole, strong growth was seen in cruise passengers travelling to the Eastern Mediterranean, up 8.5 per cent to 746,000 passengers.
Among British cruisers, however, there was a drop in the number of cruisers to the Eastern Med to 137,000 passengers, and there was also a drop in cruises to the Central and Western Med, although this remained the most popular region with 553,000 passengers.
Cruises to Northern Europe, meanwhile, grew by eight per cent to 490,000 passengers.
The CLIA Director said that British cruisers tend to prefer to start their cruises in the UK, which heavily influences their choice of cruise destinations.