Fred Olsen Cruise Lines will increase its capacity out of Newcastle by 45% by basing flagship Balmoral there during the 2016/17 programme.

Announcing its future itineraries, sales and marketing director Nathan Philpot said the line recognised the importance of the regions and explained the prominence of departure points when customers pick their cruise holidays.

The 1,350-guest ship will sail from Newcastle for the first time, with 11 departures. The season out of the Port of Tyne starts on May 21, 2016, with a five-night fjords cruise.

Philpot said: “We are very excited to be basing Balmoral in Newcastle from May to August in 2016, meaning that we will be able to offer our loyal guests in the northeast an even greater number of cruise departures than ever before, with a choice of 11 in total.”

Fred Olsen is also actively pushing for a new ship to be added to the fleet.

Philpot said the line was constantly approaching the board seeking approval for added capacity, though he stressed there were “no firm plans” for expansion of the line.

However, he went on to add: “We would be crazy not to be thinking about what we could do [in terms of expansion] – whether it be new builds or extra tonnage.”

He said the “economics had to work” and that some people on the board could need persuading.