There is much talk in the cruise industry these days about developing year-round cruises in Europe.
"We are very determined to establish ourselves in Europe. We have eight very different ships, and our "white ships" would be a good choice for itineraries in Europe," Einar Kloster, Chairman of Kloster Cruise, said. "However, we must see a business plan first."
According to Kloster, the company is looking for a year-round cruise concept in Europe.
"I believe many cruise lines would like to sell on the European market and sail there," added Staale Heldre, Marketing Director of Polaris Cruise Line. "There was also much talk about that two or three years ago, however, but with the terrorism activities in 1986, interest evaporated."
Most cruise line executives agree that terrorism is still a sensitive issue and will play a key role in the potential development of Europe as a viable sailing region.
Alternative to Caribbean
"As our capacity develops, the Mediterranean, provided it stays peaceful, could pick up the overflow from the Caribbean from April through November," Rune Flesland said, Director of Royal Caribbean Cruise Line.
According to Flesland, the Mediterranean is an interesting region from the Greek Isles in the east to Italian and Spanish ports in the west, but airline connections and security may be the deciding factors.
Preferred Cruising Region
While overcapacity in the Caribbean may be one reason prompting cruise lines to move ships to Europe, several cruise line executives consider European waters to offer the most interesting and unique itineraries.
According to Stale Heldre, European itineraries, while catering to European markets, are also very attractive to Americans and would supplement the Caribbean cruise market.
Should Europe open up as a major cruise market and sailing region, there are potentially many new market segments, according to Flesland, who sees RCCL marketing to both Europeans and Americans.
Tipping the Scales
Industry executives and observers agree that European waters could open the door to a number of solutions to what many see as overcrowding in the Caribbean. The hitch, however, is the still present threat of terrorism.