No matter how expert, however, forecasters do not seem able to predict such events as the Arab Spring, negative publicity from ship incidents, or economic downturns, all of which are forcing European markets to take a break, while governments struggle to restore economies and consumers to gain their confidence back.
As Lisa Bauer, executive vice president of global sales at Royal Caribbean put it: “So much depends on the economy. (Cruise) demand is very aligned with what is happening in the economy.”
Once Europe is back on course, a market penetration level similar to North America could be within reach – meaning a total of some 22 million Europeans would cruise every year, up from 6 million today.
If this scenario were to play out, the cruise lines will have to ramp up their newbuilding schedule, and ports and destinations will have to invest significantly in upgrading their facilities and infrastructure. Some destinations are crowded already. What will happen if the number of visitors were to triple or quadruple?
Theoretically, such growth may give opportunities to new destinations, and perhaps even motivate new cruise lines to enter the market, despite the high financial thresholds.
This is our food and beverage issue, forever a very tempting topic, and certainly no less so based on the newest offerings that cruise line executives have shared with us.
Also very interesting is how the brands – ranging from the largest to luxury and niche cruise lines – are keeping up with trends and catering to their markets, whether national, regional or global.
We are covering other relevant issues, ranging from ECA exemptions to ballast water questions, operating efficiencies, working environment, communications, cruise sales, safety and more.
Other topics covered include new ships, refurbishment projects and port and destination news from around the globe.
Angela Reale Mathisen & Oivind Mathisen