Hamburg has always been a destination for the world’s largest, most impressive cruise liners. Last weekend the city became the first port to greet Celebrity Cruises’ vessel Celebrity Eclipse. Following her arrival on 16 April the ship dropped anchor for the first time with a select group of guests on board. Their destination was an unusual mini-cruise on the North Sea.

The liner was back at the Hafen City dock on 18 April to present itself to the city’s residents. A stage had been erected adjacent to the berth and events held that day included a concert.

This was the first time since 2002 that Celebrity Cruises had sent a ship to Hanseatic City and it will be followed up by a third visit in 2010 by the Celebrity Constellation, on April 24.

A short time ago, news had leaked out that Dan Hanrahan, CEO and President of Celebrity Cruises, also had Hamburg on the agenda for 2011. There are plans in place for the Celebrity Silhouette to depart from the city on her maiden voyage in July 2011.

In recent years the German market has recorded the strongest growth rates in comparison to other European markets.

“Germany is the second biggest cruise market in Europe”, Hanrahan explained

In 2009, a total of 1,025,968 passengers went on an ocean cruise, representing growth of 13 percent over the previous year. Forecasts for the future continue to be positive; this is in part due to the expected increase in the number of beds available for the German market.  International shipping lines are increasingly recognizing this development in Germany and in the rest of Europe.

“Already this year 40 percent of our cruise passengers are European sourced”, Hanrahan stated regarding the importance of the European cruise market.