A cruise operator that struggled through the pandemic after being hit by numerous travel restrictions is now seeing its fortunes turn around.

Panache Cruises, launched last July by local businessman James Cole, has seen its busiest ever month through August, as more countries are added to the government's travel green list and people feel more confident to book.

The company said that 28 per cent of bookings made for August are for 2021 departures, 42 per cent for 2022 departures, 25 per cent for 2023 departures and 5 per cent for 2024.

The top destinations booked were for cruises around the Mediterranean (29 per cent), Australasia (17 per cent)m and the Caribbean (11 per cent).

Mr Cole, who launched Bolton-based Panache Cruises at the beginning of the pandemic last July, said that Panache customers are now more confidently booking their next cruise as they know that as more and more destinations open up prices will rise.

'Strict' safety measures have been put in place, including all staff being double vaccinated, with a lot of investment made to protect passengers.

He said: “Since we launched Panache Cruises we have achieved sales of over £3m demonstrating the huge pent-up demand there continues to be for cruising. Some of our customers have now booked several sailings as they are keen to benefit from the exceptional deals available right now.

"With many of the cruise lines insisting now that passengers are double-jabbed and their crew, personally I think it’s the safest way to holiday.

"Those that have travelled over the summer months have told us that the process has been far easier than they anticipated, with the airport experience much more pleasant than usual and the process of testing not as expensive or arduous as they thought. In fact, I have recently travelled to Barbados with my family and found it all very straight-forward.

"Brits are desperate to get away. The combination of not being able to travel for some considerable time, and a disappointing summer for many parts of the country means that taking a holiday, and especially a cruise, is at the top of the wish list for many."