Ferry services in and from the UK see 4.2% passenger increase this year
Demand for domestic and Irish ferry travel has grown by 4.2% this year, new figures show.
Some 5.69 million people travelled on ferries serving UK islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland in the first half of the year compared with 5.46 million in the same period in 2016, according to i ndustry body Discover Ferries.
The number of cars taken on ferries has also increased: up 4.7% on domestic routes and 3% on services between Britain and Ireland.
New analysis also revealed more than 15,000 beds are available every night on ships sailing from Britain to France, Spain, Holland, Belgium and across the Irish Sea.
:: Over 9,000 beds from Harwich, Hull and Newcastle to Holland and Belgium
:: Nearly 4,000 beds on routes from Portsmouth and Plymouth to France
:: Some 1,000 beds on overnight Irish Sea routes from Liverpool to Belfast and Dublin
:: An average of more than 1,000 beds from Portsmouth and Plymouth to Spain
Brittany Ferries, which operates from Portsmouth, Poole and Plymouth to France and Spain, has seen a 37% increase in demand for cabins since 2012.
The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company reported a 10% rise in cabin bookings between the UK and the Isle of Man this year compared with the same point in 2016.
Discover Ferries director Bill Gibbons said: " 2016 was our fifth successive year of growth in the number of people taking their car on holiday by sea.
"The latest data indicates that 2017 could be set to continue that great record.
"Ferry companies are continuing to invest in ships and our new audit shows that there are now 15,000 cabins on ferry routes within and from the UK so travellers can effectively begin to unwind right from the outset of their holiday.
" Sleeping overnight on a ferry will often replace the need to book a hotel near to the departure or destination port."