British Ports Celebrate Record Year in 2023

Virgin and Saga ships in Tilbury

British ports have welcomed a record number of guests and cruise ship calls in 2023, according to figures released by Cruise Britain.

A total of 2,499 calls were welcomed in 2023, surpassing the previous 2019 record, while the number of passengers embarking on their cruise at a UK port exceeded 1.5 million for the first time. This represents a 26 percent growth compared to the previous highest in 2018.

In terms of transit passengers, ports welcomed 2.16 million guests, representing 24 percent more than in 2019.

“The popularity of cruises into and around Britain shines even more brightly than it did pre-Covid,” said Ian McQuade, chair of Cruise Britain.

“Cruise is now an important part of the tourism landscape for many ports and destinations, and we are seeing the rewards for an industry that has consistently worked together to recover, regenerate and develop. Whilst Round Britain and Ireland cruise popularity continues to grow, there is a very strong success story for British port calls as part of a multi-country chain of discovery. As Cruise Britain celebrates the association’s 15th birthday, a look back into the archives shows a doubling of call numbers and embarkations; plus a tremendous 500 percent increase in transit passengers since 2009!”

In 2023, cruise passengers arrived for the day or embarked through 57 cruise ports aboard 123 individual ships. The ports welcomed 53 different cruise lines across the UK.

“Looking ahead to this year, we see the growth trajectory continuing with England’s south coast and Scotland continuing to underpin national cruise growth,” added McQuade. “Regional ports in all four of our nations reported record 2023 figures and all will look to build on that growth.

“The UK continues to offer and expand our incredibly diverse cruise holiday experience for guests and this is one of the most powerful reasons for the growth that we are seeing. Traditional strengths such as fabulous historical attractions are increasingly complemented by outdoor and adventurous activities that explore Britain’s glorious coast and countryside, and off-the-beaten-path experiences.

“Cruise Britain and all its members continue to work with cruise lines, industry partners and stakeholders, and government to support the development of cruise as a resilient and profitable sector of the travel industry.”


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