Market leader Aida Cruises is aiming for one million guests this year and planning for further growth with even-larger ships, the cruise line’s president, Felix Eichhorn, tells fvw.
The Carnival Corporation-owned German cruise line already increased passenger numbers from Germany, Austria and Switzerland by 10.5% to 928,500 in the 2015/16 tourism year. Its revenues are estimated by fvw to have risen about 14% to just over €1.5 billion last year. This growth was largely driven by the expansion of the fleet to 11 vessels with the arrival of the new flagship, the Aida Prima.
But president Felix Eichhorn is already looking towards new horizons this year and beyond. In July the Aida Perla will join the fleet, followed by the arrival of the first two 5,000 passenger ships, currently scheduled for end-2018 and 2021.
The arrival of the Perla means Aida will “definitely” again have double-digit growth this year. “We expect that we will reach one million guests this year with Aida from German-speaking markets for the first time,” he said.
In terms of routings, Eichhorn said the Perla will sail in the Western Mediterranean from July onwards. It will remain in the Mediterranean next winter while the Prima will switch to the Canary Islands “where we see strong demand”, he added.
Asked when Aida would return to ports in Turkey and Egypt, Eichhorn said: “The condition is that there are no more incidents in the region for a certain period of time. At the moment, we are finalising the routing for 2018. It doesn’t look like a return yet.”
Financially, the cruise line’s capacity expansion is not impacting on margins, Eichhorn said. “The average daily rates have risen in the last three years and that will be the case in 2017 as well.” The company is profiting from “very strong” rates for Northern Europe routes and “a positive trend” for rates in the Mediterranean.
The Aida chief, who is also chairman of the DRV cruise committee, again expects double-digit growth for the overall market again this year like in 2016. “In 2016, the German market reached two million ocean cruise passengers after 1.8 million the previous year. I expect the market will again grow at a double-digit rate in 2017 due to the new ships,” he said. In addition to Aida, TUI Cruises will also put a new ship into service this year.
Looking further ahead, Eichhorn confirmed that the Aida Bella would remain in the fleet in 2018 instead of being transferred to China as originally planned in order to ensure the company has sufficient capacity. The arrival of the first Helios class ship, with capacity for 5,000 passengers, will then give the company “a further growth push”, he added.