The opening 'State of the Cruise Industry in Europe' conference session at the 2013 Seatrade Europe Cruise & River Cruise Convention, held from 24 to 26 September at Hamburg Messe, was extremely attended by delegates eager to hear from cruise industry peers discussing the potential for growth in Europe.
Seatrade Europe offers industry experts the best possible environment for sharing ideas and taking the first steps towards implementing them," says Bernd Aufderheide, Chairman of the Board of Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH.
Delegates heard from CLIA Europe chairman Manfredi Lefebvre speaking about the cruise industry's 'crucial anti-cyclical role during economic downturn' and, he added, 'This is particularly true for the economic impact of cruising for the European economy.'
Manfredi singled out Germany as being on the verge of 'an unprecedented cruise tourism boom over the next decade.' It is the second largest source market in Europe, with 1.5m passengers in 2012 representing 22.5% of the continent's total.
Germany is still the second largest European market in terms of total direct spending, with almost €1.5bn being spent was in German shipyards on newbuilds and repairs in 2012. The German market still leads in terms of passengers taking river cruises, with figures of 436,600 for 2012.
Also speaking at the opening session at Seatrade Europe was CLIA president and ceo Christine Duffy, who used two words to define the cruise industry in Europe: growth and opportunity. She said CLIA is putting the full force of its resources to work to boost the profile of the cruise industry in this critical market.
Following the launch of CLIA Europe in April, national councils will be formed in Spain and Italy 'very soon,' Duffy remarked, plus there are plans to bring Belgium and Luxembourg, France and the Netherlands into the CLIA network. Later this year or in early 2014 CLIA is looking closely at expanding into Greece.
'We appear to be out of the tough times of recession with public debt looking like it is under control and inflation holding steady at 1.6%,' said Pierfrancesco Vago, ceo of MSC Cruises. Spain and Italy, which recorded minus growth last year, 'are coming back and there has been steady growth in many of the smaller European source markets, such as Turkey, Russia and East European countries.'
Although the pattern of growth across Europe is uneven, cruising's low penetration levels offer the 'biggest opportunity for growth,' said Dominic Paul, billed as vp and group md Europe, Middle East and Africa for Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity and Azamara and md RCL Cruises Ltd.
Paul was very confident about the future saying, 'We are far from saturated in Europe'. He added, 'The knowledge of what a cruise offers is still very limited, and until we get better at explaining cruising and people understand it better we have great potential.'
Paul continued the positive outlook and said, 'Five out of the top 10 tourist outbound markets are in Europe, yet cruising has a low penetration so the long-term potential is significant.' Although Royal Caribbean will have three fewer ships in Europe in 2014 compared to 2012, 'we still have 16 vessels sailing in these waters as we realise the growth potential it holds,' Paul said.
Richard Vogel, ceo of TUI Cruises, spoke of the changing face of the German market, comparing figures in 1996 where 20,000 Germans cruised, two thirds of which on international brands; to 2012 with 1.5m Germans cruising with national brands accounting for two-thirds of the market.
'I believe Germany will be closer to the UK in 2013 and with four more newbuilds arriving in the next three years (two apiece for TUI and AIDA) generating an additional 12,000 lower berths, it will be the leading source market in Europe by 2014/15,' said Vogel.
Another discussion focussed on the European shipyards, and AIDA president Michael Ungerer reminded that of the 20 new ships under construction, 18 are being built by European yards and the two under construction in Asia [for AIDA] have European suppliers and sub-suppliers.
'The know-how is here in Europe, and although the ordering pattern will likely be half a dozen newbuilds a year, they will large vessels and feature energy-saving efficiencies and innovation yet individual to meet brands' special requirements so the sector here has tremendous growth opportunities,' Ungerer said.
Following the opening session there was an exhibition tour with key cruise line executives including Pierfrancesco Vago, Michael Ungerer, Helge Grammerstorf, national director, CLIA Germany, and John Tercek, vp new business development at Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, plus representatives from CLIA Europe and local media.
There are still interesting panels running:
The "Care Awareness Training Session" is an entirely new feature at Seatrade Europe. Put together in a collaborative effort of Cunard Line, Costa Crociere, Ibero Cruceros and P&O Cruises with Higher Resources, this seminar on emergency support is aimed specifically at port agents and ground services representatives who play an essential role in providing support to guests and crew in emergencies and in the aftermath of a crisis. Carnival UK CEO David Dingle explains the idea: "Our Care programme has helped hundreds of passengers and crew in the UK, both on board and at our ports of call. I strongly recommend attendance at this session." The training programme is based on the "Human Services Response" concept developed by Dr. Carolyn V. Coarsey using her research and lessons learned in 27 years of working with survivors. This interactive session includes various role-plays, group discussions and video interviews of cruise line accident survivors.
About Seatrade Europe
Seatrade Europe, the leading trade event of the European cruise and rivercruise industry, will be held at Hamburg, Germany's famous seaport on the Elbe river, from 24 to 26 September 2013. Industry decision-makers and professionals will meet to exchange ideas, set new trends and expand their business networks. More than 250 exhibitors from 50 different nations will showcase their most recent innovations to a broad industry audience at the Hamburg Messe fair site. Exhibitors include shipyards and ship chandlers as well as classification societies, cruise ports. From small-scale on-board hospitals to huge restaurant kitchens, from waste disposal to entertainment equipment, operations on board a cruiseship are highly complex, requiring perfect logistics. At the two-day conference held in parallel with the exhibition, high-level experts will discuss current industry topics.