The number of British people taking cruises last year fell short of industry projections by 20,000.

The Passenger Shipping Association had forecast 1.64 million passengers for 2010 but today admitted the number came in at 1.62 million. However, this still represented a 6% increase on 2009.

The association has also trimmed its forecast for this year down to 1.7 million from 1.77 million predicted last October at the Abta Travel Convention in Malta.

The number of Britons taking cruise holidays is still expected to break through the two million figure by 2014.

Cruising now accounts for 11.7% of the overseas package holiday sector, compared with 10.6% in 2009. according to PSA figures.

The number of people taking ex-UK cruises grew by 10% to 653.000 last year, with fly-cruises seeing a more modest rise of 3% to 968,000.

The Mediterranean continued to be the most popular cruise destination with 43% of Britons choosing the region, up 18%, while Northern Europe retained second place.
 
PSA director Bill Gibbons said: “The cruise sector continues to report impressive growth and the success of UK cruising, during one of the toughest economic periods the world has seen, can be attributed to the excellent value for money and the fantastic variety of a cruise holiday. 

“2011 is well and truly on course to be yet another record year, with 1.7 cruises expected to be taken by Brits, and we are confident that cruise passenger figures will reach two million passengers by 2014.”