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Germans favor shorter cruises, ocean pricing holds while river pricing drops: booking portal

Market study finds Mediterranean lost market share but remains Germans' favorite ocean-cruise destination
Germans are choosing shorter ocean and river cruises, and are becoming increasingly price sensitive when booking a river cruise, new research has found. The Baltic, Northern Europe, the Caribbean and the Canary Islands all gained market share among the top destinations while the Mediterranean—although still the favorite—lost share.

Among river destinations, the Nile has lost popularity and is no longer one of the favorites. In contrast, the Danube, Rhine and Rhône rivers all gained market share and are the new top three.

Also, reversing a recent trend, passengers are now booking ocean and river cruises earlier to benefit from early bird rates.

These are the key findings of a German market analysis released Thursday by e-hoi, a leading German booking portal specialised in ocean and river cruises.

For its report e-hoi analysed bookings made between Jan. 1 and June 30, giving insight into the preferences of Germans who buy cruises online.

In the ocean segment, the average cruise price remained stable at €1,266, compared to €1,261 in 2013. The average cruise duration dropped from 10.1 days to 9.8 days, resulting in a 2% increase in the daily rate, from €115 to €117.

The average advance booking time increased from 123 days to 137 days. The share of ocean and river cruises booked at short notice—up to three months prior to sailing—fell from 51% to 43%. Some 28% of the cruises were booked between three and six months in advance, and 29% were booked six months or more in advance.

The Mediterranean remained the most popular ocean-cruise destination with a 27% market share, but that was down from 38% in 2013. The Baltic (20% compared to 18% in 2013), Northern Europe (13% compared to 11%), Caribbean (13% up from 9%) and Canary Islands (7% versus 3%) maintained their order of ranking but all gained share.

The river segment, in contrast, faced significant pricing pressure. Average cruise prices dropped by 24%, from €1,065 to €805, and the average per diem fell from €127 to €110. The average length of a river cruise dropped from 7.9 days to seven days. River cruises were booked, on average, 115 days in advance, compared to 110 days in 2013.

The age of river cruisers remains older than that of ocean cruisers: 61.6 years compared to 53.6 years.

The most popular river destination was the Danube, with a 50% market share, up from 43% in 2013. The Rhine followed with a 36% share, up from 33%. The Rhône had a 4.2% sliver. In a dramatic change reflecting the security concerns about Egypt, the Nile shrank to such a small share among e-hoi clients that it is no longer listed among the favorites.

The booking portal found lower prices driving a surge of bookings in the river segment. The river cruise share increased to 10% from about 7% last year, a 43% year-over-year growth.

E-hoi is a brand of Frankfurt-based e-domizil.