When talking about British cruise ports, people tend to think about high-profile Southampton, Harwich or even Liverpool.
But the best cruise port in Britain, according to the latest industry awards, is actually Newcastle.
The Port of Tyne was named the Best UK Port of Call in the annual Cruise Critic Editor’s Pick Awards, reflecting a boom in cruise business in the North East.
Newcastle has become a popular stop-off on round-Britain itineraries, bringingsome £44m to the region’s visitor economy and helping to sustain about 1,400 jobs in the tourism sector.
Explaining why the Port of Tyne was selected as the best U.K. port for visitors, Cruise Critic’s editor in chief, Carolyn Spencer Brown, said: ‘Newcastle has some delightful areas — the Quayside, superb museums, restaurants and galleries – and is convenient as both a port of embarkation and a port of call.
‘The city’s charms also extend to the countryside, with a range of diversions from castles to cathedrals and the gorgeous scenery of the Pennines.’
For 2012, a record 41 cruise ships are expected to visit the port.
But Southampton doesn’t need to worry yet, it was named Best UK Departure port for its continued growth and commitment to the cruise industry.
It wasn’t just the ports receiving awards from cruisecritic.co.uk, plenty of ships were honoured for their innovation too.
Despite reflagging its ships to Bermuda in order to bypass a UK law which bans weddings on cruise ships, Cunard emerged a favourite among cruise journalists who made up the awards panel.
Cunard won Best Itineraries and Best Alternative Restaurant for the Verandah Restaurant onboard Queen Elizabeth.
The Best New Ship award went to Carnival Magic, the largest ship ever constructed for Carnival, which launched this year and spent the summer cruising the Mediterranean.
When it came to Best New River Cruise Ship, the panel voted Uniworld’s River Antoinette the best newcomer, the boutique ship is decorated in the style of France’s Château de Versailles and travels the length of the Rhine with various different itineraries.
For luxury, Seabourn was voted best cruise line and Star Clippers was named best for adventure.
But first-timer cruisers may prefer to stick with P&O Ventura which was crowned best ship for novices.
Thomson was recognised for offering the best fly-cruises and Noble Caledonia for world-class shore excursions, while Holland America received praise for the best cabins.