Ex-UK cruise specialist Cruise & Maritime Voyages has reported a 15% rise in sales for the first three weeks of January over the same period last year.

The company, which runs two ships from seven ports in the UK and Ireland, said more than 30% of passengers last year were first time cruisers.

Customer feedback shows they want a British-style cruise with an attractive itinerary. Price and value were also high on the list of priorities.

Marketing manager Mike Hall said: “We still have another week of selling to go this month, but during the first three weeks of the year we are already showing a 15% increase in sales for January.

“What the first few weeks of  2011 has shown us is that following the snow, and the skies still looking a little grey, the British public are booking their holidays if the price and product are right. The Norwegian fjords and the British Isles cruises are selling the best so far this year.

“We offer variable durations throughout the year for both areas with departures from London Tilbury, Newcastle and Leith leading the way in sales.

“This appears to follow a similar pattern to last year when regional departures filled early and only 15% of our passengers booked within three months of sailing.”

The company is discounting cruises by 10% on bookings made by the end of the month on the ships Marco Polo and Ocean Countess.