A record number of cruise ship departures from UK ports is predicted for this year.

Figures released by CruiseBritain forecast a 3% rise in the number of cruise ship departures to 868 from British ports in 2013 over last year.

The growth reflects an increase in the number of sailings from regional ports as well as the more established cruise ports of Southampton and Dover.

Round Britain cruises are also expected to rise by 12% to 120 departures and show a projected growth of nearly 70% since 2010.

The number of ports handling departures remains steady at 19 with new CruiseBritain member Bristol Avonmouth seeing its first cruise ship departures in 20 years.

Kate O’Hara, chair of the joint Clia UK & Ireland and VisitBritain organization, said: “The continued strong growth in round Britain cruises is testament to the diversity of destinations round our island; cruise ships of all sizes can visit a selection of ports within short sailing distances and cruise lines can be confident that passenger expectations will be met.

“As well as the rise in round Britain cruises, the growth in departure numbers is encouraging, especially as it involves some ports such as Bristol which have not welcomed cruise ships for 20 years.

“The profile of Britain as a cruise destination is definitely increasing and we welcome all port initiatives to increase traffic.”