An additional one million passengers sailed by ferry from the UK in 2014 for the second year in succession, according to latest Ferrystat figures released today by industry body Discover Ferries.

Carryings rose by 2.6% from 38.01 million in 2013 to 39.01 million across more than 75 routes, while passenger cars carried by ferry were up 1.6% at 8.5 million, and more than 163,300 coaches were handled, an increase of 3.1%.

The ferry industry is now on target to handle 40 million passengers in 2015.

Continental ferry routes saw the strongest passenger growth of 3.7% to 18.32 million with the key Dover-Calais/Dunkirk short Channel routes operated by DFDS, P&O Ferries and MyFerryLink up 4.4% to 13.29 million.

North Sea routes to Holland by DFDS, P&O Ferries and Stena Line were up 2.9% to 1.75 million passengers, with the western Channel sector, operated by Brittany Ferries and DFDS, up 1.5% to 2.85 million.

Ferry passengers travelling to Ireland by operators including Irish Ferries, P&O Ferries and Stena Line, were up 1.4% overall to 4.87 million, with the “central corridor” Holyhead and Liverpool routes to Dublin the best-performing sub-sector, showing 2.9% growth to 2.13 million passengers.

Domestic mainland ferry routes were up 1.8% overall to 15.83 million passengers overall, with Scottish routes performing best, up 3.9% to 6.19 million passengers served by ferry lines like Cal-Mac and Northlink.

Isle of Wight passenger figures via operators such as Red Funnel and Wightlink, rose 0.7% to 8.64 million.

Discover Ferries director Bill Gibbons said: “It has been another strong year for UK ferry industry, putting on more than a million passengers for the second year in succession, with us now in striking distance of 40 million passengers for 2015.”

“In the all-important France market, with 15.9 million passenger journeys in 2014, ferries are the market leaders with 33%, compared to approximately 23% by air, 23% by Eurotunnel and 21% by Eurostar – and other ferry markets like Holland, Northern Ireland, and Scotland are all showing strong passenger growth.”

He added: “Consumers are now very savvy about getting the best value and minimising hassle when they travel, especially with their families.

“They realise that taking your car by ferry is a smart way to achieving a new sense of travelling freedom, with no baggage charges.

“The industry is also getting together behind our showcase consumer campaign for National Ferry Fortnight, running this year on March 2-15, when some excellent added value ferry offers will be available on discoverferries.com.”