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.
CLIA president and ceo Christine Duffy defined the cruise industry in Europe with two words: 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.
The speeches were done at the opening session of Seatrade Europe that is taking place in Hamburg, Germany from 24 to 26 September 2013.