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Cruise industry in Europe - statistics & facts

The European cruise market is one of the largest cruise markets in the world, ranking only behind North America for passenger numbers. Over seven million cruise passengers were sourced from Europe in 2019, though this number dropped to just over one million in 2020 as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Within Europe, just four cruise companies make up most of the market share. Of these, Carnival is by far the leading cruise company in Europe, accounting for 45 percent of the total market in 2020. Carnival owns and operates numerous brands including Costa, AIDA, and P&O Cruises. Other top cruise companies in Europe include MSC Cruises, Royal Caribbean Cruises LTD, and Norwegian Cruise Line.

Major European cruise markets

There are five major source markets for cruises in Europe: Germany, the United Kingdom & Ireland, Italy, France, and Spain. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over two and a half million cruise passengers came from Germany alone, with nearly two million also from the UK. During the health crisis, however, only half a million cruise passengers were German, though Germany was still the largest source of European cruise passengers in 2020.

Prior to the pandemic, the Mediterranean and Northern Europe were among the most popular cruise destinations for Europeans. However, cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda became the number one destination for European cruise passengers during 2020. Overall, nearly 400 thousand European passengers took cruises to this area that year.

Impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the European cruise industry

As part of the travel and tourism sector, the cruise industry was severely impacted during the COVID-19 pandemic due to travel restrictions, border closures, and social distancing measures. The number of cruise passengers from Europe declined across all source countries in 2020, with the number of passengers originating from Spain, Portugal, and the UK decreasing by around 90 percent each over 2019. European cruise destinations were similarly affected, with the number of cruise guests visiting Baltic ports, for example, declining by 99 percent that same year.

Despite concerns surrounding the health crisis, the cruise industry was expected to gradually recover following its sharp decline in 2020. According to Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook, cruise industry revenues in Europe were predicted to increase to around nine billion U.S. dollars by 2025, rising from roughly 1.3 billion in 2020.

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