MSC Cruises has launched cruises for £1 for UK bookings for the first time as the economic downturn forces cruiselines to introduce more aggressive offers.

The £1 cruises are available when one adult books between December 1-7 and pays brochure price for a cruise next year. The second passenger travelling with him or her will only pay £1.

A spokeswoman said: “We were always looking at doing something for Christmas but the credit crunch has spurred us on to do it. It’s the first time we have offered this in the UK.”

She added the £1 deal could become a regular offer for passengers. “If it proves successful we will do this every year. We might even do it during the year as well as December,” she said.

More than 100 departures are available under the offer, from March to November 2009, for seven, eight or 11 nights. It is available for selected sailings on MSC Armonia, Opera, Melody, Sinfonia, Orchestra, Lirica, Poesia, Fantasia, Splendida. Itineraries include east and west Mediterranean, with departures from Barcelona, Genoa, Venice, Livorno and northern Europe, covering the Baltics.

Prices start at £700 for cruise-only for the first passenger and flights are available from £210 per person.