Luxury liner comes to the Tyne

Seabourn Sojourn docks on the Tyne Credit: ITV

Even in a recession, there's apparently an increasing demand for luxury holidays.

One of the ritziest cruise ships has just sailed into North Shields.

It's the first time the Seabourn Sojourn has visited here as part of its tour from Lisbon to Hamburg carrying 450 passengers.

One in eight holidays are now cruises. And despite unpredictable weather, British ports are becomming increasingly popular stops with the number expected to double in the next ten years. The Port of Tyne was named best UK Port 2011.

Susan Wear from the Port of Tyne said, "passengers are coming for our attractions, spending money in our shops and hotels. We calculated that last year with our Newcastle to Amsterdam ferry service, 600,000 passengers came through the port contributing 45 million pounds to the local economy."

Durham cathedral, Alnwick Castle and Hadrian's Wall are among the most popular day-trips among the visitors.

The Bahamas registered Seabourn Sojourn has 11 decks and boasts what it calls 'six star luxury' - spacious lounges and bedroom suites, fine dining, champagne bars and lavish spa rooms.

Most passengers are from Europe or America, including Arlene Whitsky from Maryland who, by the end of this current tour, will have notched up 2708 days with the Seabourn fleet.

She spends 11 months of the year at sea and says she's quite content rain or shine.

"I like to read, look out the window at the pretty clouds in the sky, it's very relaxing and the staff are nice, I'm glad to be able to do it", she said.

The captain of the Seabourn Sojourn is Sunderland-based Hamis Ellliot. Spending most of his time working abroad, he was glad to be sailing into familiar territory today.

"It's always good to sail into the Tyne. There's a lot of industry next to the port but you don't have to go far to find some of the nicest beaches and countryside."

The cruise ship is only spending one day on the Tyne before heading to the Netherlands and its final stop in Hamburg, Germany.