The European cruise industry is expanding on several fronts - with the leading European cruise brands introducing new ships, and with the American-based cruise lines dedicating more ships to European markets, as well as marketing more of their overall capacity in Europe. The result is not only an expanding European cruise market, but also intensified competition. There are signs that price wars are brewing in some markets.

European Growth
The European cruise apacity is set to grow from an estimated 2.8 million passengers in 2005 to 3.2 million in 2006 (14.2 percent), to 3.5 million in 2007 (10.6 percent), to 4 million in 2008 (13.7 percent) and 4.5 million in 2009 (11.9 percent). While there are no new ship orders for 2010 and beyond yet, they are undoubtedly in the pipeline.

The expansion will be driven by new ships in all the major markets, which in turn are expected to put the squeeze on the older ships.

Also, by 2010, the growth rate is expected to be tempered somewhat by the withdrawal of some older tonnage which will not be able to comply with Solas.

Expansion will be driven mainly by Costa Crociere and MSC Cruises, both of which market across Europe, while Aida Cruises and P&O Cruises are driving growth in their respective national markets, Germany and the U.K.

Costa has also taken its growth ambitions one step further, by being the first cruise line to deploy a ship out of the Chinese market.

American Grow th in Europe
Royal Caribbean International and Princess Cruises are both dedicating ships to the U.K. market, with Royal Caribbean claiming to have a 14 percent market share. In addition, all of the North American brands are boosting their capacity in Europe in 2006 with even more capacity in 2007.

Some Costa and MSC ships are also marketed in North America.