The growing appeal of cruising from UK ports has been demonstrated by the findings of a new consumer poll by leading online agency

The company’s annual Cruise Passenger Ratings Survey found UK-based ships dominating all categories, with Cunard voted the best cruise line for the third year running and its ship Queen Victoria the best ship, providing the best food and the best shore excursions.

Celebrity Cruises was runner up in the best cruise line category, followed by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, P&O Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises, Thomson Cruises, NCL, Cruise & Maritime Voyages and MSC Cruises.

Behind Queen Victoria as best ship was P&O Cruises’ Ventura, Celebrity Eclipse, Independence of the Seas, Arcadia, Queen Mary 2, Oceana, Oriana, Adventure of the Seas and Azura.

Royal Caribbean International’s Independence of the Seas, which is sailing year-round from Southampton, was seen as providing the best entertainment while sister company Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Eclipse, which made its debut from the UK last summer, has the best accommodation.

P&O Cruises’ Oriana topped the poll for being best for children, toppling last year’s winner, the company’s family-friendly Ventura.

The best service was seen as being provided by Royal Caribbean’s Adventure of the Seas, the only one of the winners not to sail from the UK.

The poll of 26,000 cruise passengers is seen as the definitive guide to cruising written by UK cruisers and includes 8,500 new passenger reviews since January 2010.
Company managing director Seamus Conlon said:  “The surprise this year is the number of UK-based ships that dominate all the groups.”
And he added that after a difficult year affected by the Icelandic ash cloud, British Airways strikes and upheaval in Thailand and Greece, bookings continue to “hold strong”.

“But we feel the skew towards UK based ships may continue through 2011 with ex-UK cruises offering less stress for passengers,” said Conlon.

Reviewing the results, he predicted that Cunard’s market share can only get stronger. “This is a really strong performance once again in the only category which has seen no change since we started in 2008,” said Conlon.

“Having said that, Celebrity Cruises has moved up four places and continues to grow stronger, whilst Thomson has dropped five places. Two newcomers taking the 9th and 10th spots respectively are Cruise & Maritime Voyages and MSC Cruises.

“The surprise this year has come from Celebrity Eclipse, launched in May 2010 and sailing from Southampton has performed in the top 10 in all categories.

“Typically, the newer cruise ships don’t rate highly in their first year because of the inevitable teething problems of a new ship launch. Across the board, P&O’s ships ranked highly, coming in runner up on a number of categories.

“One of their older vessels, Oriana, has knocked her sister ship, Ventura from the top spot for families with Independence of the Seas coming in second, perhaps showing it’s care rather than facilities which rate with parents.

“Interestingly Oriana has made a new appearance in a number of categories, perhaps  also showing that P&O has made improvements to this particular ship in either facilities or service.”