Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Europe today announced from 29th annual Cruise Shipping Miami conference and exhibition that more Europeans than ever booked a cruise in 2012 with the number reaching a record of 6.139 million, a doubling of the European cruise market in just eight years.

The long term trend shows strong growth with a five-year annual average European passenger growth of 8 percent.

Similar to previous years four out of five Europeans chose to cruise in Europe, with the most popular destination the Mediterranean, which saw 3.5 million European passengers visiting the region. However, the noticeable trend in Europe was the increasing popularity of ‘cool water’ cruising in Northern Europe, which 10 percent growth from 1.216 million to 1.333 million passengers.

Manfredi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of CLIA Europe said:

“2012 was a strong year for the European cruise industry, especially in view of the challenges the year presented. The doubling in the number of Europeans booking a cruise in the past eight years reflects the fact that the European cruise industry provides quality, innovation, value and great range of choice. We very much look forward to seeing that growth continue this year, and the associated economic benefits that this will bring to Europe.”

Rob Ashdown, secretary general of CLIA Europe, added:

“2012 was a record-breaking year for the cruise industry in Europe, which is contributing significantly to helping Europe maintain its position as one of the world’s top tourism destinations. It is one of the few sectors in Europe currently generating growth and the cruise industry generates employment for more than 315,000 people across Europe, from the shipyards and marine equipment producers to employment in ports and coastal communities. The continuing economic fragility in Europe continues to present challenges, but we are cautiously optimistic that the cruise industry will continue to grow in 2013.”

Key figures released by CLIA Europe:

  • 6,139,000 European took a cruise in 2012, a new record.
  • The UK still leads as the main source market.
  • Germany grew of 11 percent and is now 25 percent of the European market share.
  • France grew 9 percent.
  • The results from Italy and Spain, 9 percent and 18 percent drop respectively, reflect the deteriorating economic situation in those two countries, however, the five-year trend in every market remains positive.
  • The number of Europeans booking a cruise has doubled since 2004, and increased by 38 percent since the economic crisis began in 2008. Since the onset of the crisis the European economy grew by just 2.5 percent and by 2.7 percent in the eurozone (Eurostat 2013 - real GDP growth rate – volume).
  • Four out of five European passengers chose a cruise in Europe
  • The Mediterranean remained the most popular destination but the big growth market in Europe was ‘cool water’ cruising Northern European which grew by 10 percent.
  •  The industry in Europe generates over 315,000 jobs and over $48 billion of economic benefits annually.