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A record 226,000 holidaymakers chose overnight ship cruises in 2000, up 33.4 percent from the previous year, the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry said.

The figure was cited in a report titled “Holiday Cruise Trends 2000,” covering cruises lasting for more than one night. The previous record was 225,000, set in 1995.

The number of passengers on ocean liner cruises rose 84.3 percent to 131,000, the report says, noting the sharp rise in ocean cruises reflects the opening of new routes linking Fukuoka with South Korea and China at discount rates. The routes were opened by a marine transport firm in Malaysia in March 2000, it says.

The number of cruises organized for company guests and business seminars has decreased from a peak in the bubble economy years of the late 1980s and early 1990s, but pleasure cruises for individual travelers have increased, the report says.

Married couples in their 60s made up a sizable percentage of those taking overnight cruises, it says.

Short-term cruises marked a rise compared with the previous year, with the average duration shortening from 8.6 nights in 1999 to 5.2 nights in 2000.

The most popular destinations for ocean liner cruises were South Korea, China and other countries in Asia, followed by North America, Oceania, Micronesia and the Caribbean islands.

Domestic cruises, meanwhile, saw a 3.1 percent drop in individual customers to 95,000.

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