Pierfrancesco Vago, chairman of Cruise Lines International Association Europe, has revealed that more Europeans than ever booked a cruise in 2014 – an increase of 0.5 per cent compared to the 2013 figures.
Since the beginning of the economic crisis in 2008, the European cruise market has grown by 44 per cent, proving the cruise industry’s resilience.
According to the latest figures available, the economic impact of the cruise industry in Europe approached €40 billion in 2013, and provided nearly 340,000 jobs.
Vago said: “Once again, the number of Europeans choosing a cruise holiday has hit a new record – reaching 6.39 million passengers – despite the on-going economic difficulties in Europe.
“Thanks to our efforts, cruising has proved once again to be an excellent holiday choice for millions of passengers in Europe and beyond, providing great value for money.”
In 2014 Germany became Europe’s first source country with 1.77 million passengers, while France consolidated itself as the fourth largest source market in Europe, with an impressive growth of 13.7 per cent.
At the same time there was a decrease in capacity deployment in the Mediterranean, which affected several markets, due to cruise lines’ individual strategies and a backdrop of continuing economic difficulties in the EU.
Talking about the 0.5 per cent growth rate for 2014, Pierfrancesco Vago said: “This may sound like a small achievement, but if we consider the European economic climate, we can see that this is an extraordinary result, and continues our industry’s trend of steady growth year-on-year.
“While Europe is struggling to recover from the economic crisis, our industry has continued to grow. We have grown by an incredible 44 per cent since 2008.”
Largely as a consequence of reduced cruise ship capacity away from UK ports and other popular destinations for UK and Irish consumers such as the Mediterranean, the number of UK and Irish ocean cruise passengers fell by 4.8 per cent to 1.64 million in 2014.
However, the number of UK and Irish passengers taking fly cruises increased three per cent in 2014, and the longer term trends demonstrate that the UK & Ireland market remains resilient - the annual average increase in passenger numbers since the start of the economic downturn in 2008 has been 3.3 per cent and, over the past quarter century, there has been ten-fold growth.