Tour Operators Dossier

German and international cruise firms sail ahead with double-digit growth

German operators dominate the cruise market
German operators dominate the cruise market

The German cruise market again outpaced the overall holiday market last year with double-digit growth, including strong performances by most German and international brands, according to the fvw Tour Operators Dossier 2018.

The German cruise market is picking up speed as new ships come into service. The number of passengers carried by the cruise lines participating in the dossier increased by 10% to 2.2 million last year while their combined turnover grew by as much as 17% to just over €4 billion. Cruise operators were thus able to increase their average price per passenger on an overall basis.

The two dominant German cruise operators both generated strong growth last year thanks to adding new ships and general strong demand for ocean cruises. Aida Cruises increased revenues by 13.3% to €1.7 billion as passenger numbers grew by 12.2% to more than one million. TUI Cruises achieved growth of as much as 30% to top the billion-euro mark while passenger numbers increased by just over 15% to 467,000. Its very high revenue growth was partly due to early bookings for Mein Schiff 6. This strong growth left the two operators with a combined share of nearly 70% of the fast-growing German market.

The third-largest German operator, the river cruises specialist Phoenix Reisen, generated solid growth last year with revenues up by 7% and passenger numbers by 8%. Fourth-placed Hapag-Lloyd Cruises increased revenues by 5% but passenger numbers dropped by 8%. TUI’s up-market ocean cruises specialist explained that the average cruise length increased by as much as 13% last year, mostly due to new routings for the Europa 2. In other words, fewer passengers went on longer cruises.

The big international cruise operators also grew well on the German market last year, according to the fvw dossier. MSC increased revenues by 16% and customers by nearly 10%, while Costa managed a 28% revenue increase with just 1.5% more passengers, according to fvw estimates. The dossier does not include Carnival and NCL, which do not release any figures for the German market.

Confident outlook for 2018

Cruise operators are again optimistic for 2018 and further market growth of 8% to 2.4 million passengers is a possibility, according to the fvw dossier. Growth will be driven by new ships, such as the Aida Nova, the company’s first mega-ship with capacity for 5,000 passengers. TUI Cruises will also expand capacity with the ‘new’ Mein Schiff 1, which can transport 1,000 passengers more than the ‘old’ Mein Schiff 1 that it will replace.

Among the international players, MSC will offer the new Seaview on Mediterranean routes and increase the North/Baltic Sea fleet to four vessels. Other new ships in 2018 include the Norwegian Bliss, the Carnival Horizon, the Nieuw Statendam (Holland America Line), the Celebrity Edge and not least another mega-liner, the Symphony of the Seas.

River cruise operators are also confident of further growth this year.

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