The European cruise market is stagnating, and has little growth potential, according to Arnulf Hader, cruise analyst at the Institute of Shipping Economics in West Germany.
The Germans represent the biggest market, and last year, approximately 150,000 took cruises, Hader said, basing his comments on a study the Institute recently published on the world cruise market. The British came in second, and Italians were close behind.
"Cruising is still too expensive for Europeans," Hader said. "They don't have as much disposable income as Americans, and they take different types of vacations," Hader said. "Americans also have a lot more cruise choices without a lot of travel - the Caribbean, the coast and Alaska, for example."
Captain Bozovic, president of International Cruise Center - a company that handles reservations for several Russian ships - said that the figures for the European market have not changed much in the last 10 years, and he does not expect them to grow significantly in the future.
"Europeans can take good land vacations in the Mediterranean, the Baltic, Greece, Yugoslavia and Spain, for less than the cost of a cruise," he said.
Other industry executives are not as pessimistic.
"We are planning an international marketing strategy at NCL," said Ron Zeller, president of the line. "Air fare is the biggest problem, but it is not insurmountable - there is always the possibility of charters."
"Europe is definitely worth the investment, especially as the currency swings," he said.