In Europe, the industry is dominated by three major cruise companies: Carnival Corporation, MSC Cruises and TUI Group. Carnival owns and operates numerous brands including Costa, AIDA and P&O Cruises. As a single brand though, MSC Cruises is the largest operating in the region. Worldwide MSC Cruises carried over two million passengers in 2018. German tour operator TUI operates TUI Cruises, Hapag Lloyd and Marella in the UK.
There are five major source markets for cruises in Europe: Germany, the UK & Ireland, Italy, France and Spain. Passengers from Germany and the UK account for the largest share, either embarking at domestic ports or flying first to other countries to board (fly cruises). The Mediterranean and Northern Europe are still among the most popular cruise destinations for Europeans, however fly cruises to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Bemuda, and other destinations outside the continent are also increasingly popular.
Routes around European cruise ports can be roughly divided into the north and south of the continent. Cruises calling at ports in the Baltic sea are popular in Northern Europe, as are tours around the fjords of Norway, Iceland and the Faro islands. Cruises in the Mediterranean regions however remain the most popular. Barcelona is currently the busiest cruise port for passenger traffic, which has been both a positive and a negative for the city. Problems due to mass tourist numbers have sparked concerns for many port destinations, as cruise ships arguably offer little economic benefit to already overcrowded cities.
Despite concerns surrounding overtourism, the cruise industry is expected to continue along its growth path. According to Statista’s Mobility Market Outlook, cruise industry revenues in Europe were predicted to increase to around 8.8 billion U.S. dollars by 2023.