French cruise market swings back to growth

After a flat year, the French cruise market registered 3.4% growth in 2018, with 520,800 passengers, up from 503,800 in 2017.

'As anticipated, our growth is in line with the 2018 European average (3.3%) and benefited from a richer and more diversified offer all year 'round,' CLIA France President Erminio Eschena said.

'New ships and destinations will no doubt consolidate cruising as a key holiday option for French travelers.'

Eastern Med joins top three destinations

There was no change in destination preferences: the Western and Central Mediterraean remained the favorites and registered 226,000 French cruisers, or a 43% market share. The Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermuda ranked next, with 121,000 passengers (23.3%). With 66,000 passengers (12.7%), the Eastern Mediterranean joined the top three destinations, followed by Northern Europe, trans-Atlantic and world cruises.

Weeklong cruises most popular

The average cruise length remained 7.9 days and 69% of French cruisers booked a seven-day cruise. Demand for mini cruises (one to three days) grew 24%.

The average age of French passsengers is 49, a year younger than the European average. Those aged 40 to 49 booked mainly seven- to eight-day cruises. The Caribbean, Bahamas and Bermudas attracted younger people, while the 'exploration' destinations drew more passengers over 60.

More families with children

For Paul Nuyens, in charge of CLIA for France, Belgium and the Netherlands: 'The statistics show a market which is now more stable and with clear trends. Cruises attract a much wider public, particularly families with children. The [market] is also growing younger, as 10% of the passengers are in the age range 20 to 29.' The under-12 market grew 6% and ages 13 to 19, 7%.

7% market share

France represents a 7% share of the European cruise market, the same as Spain and compared to 32% for Germany, 27% for the United Kingdom/Ireland and 12% for Italy.

Posted 21 April 2019

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Michèle Valandina

Michèle Valandina French correspodent