Five cruise industry heavyweights have met for the first time in a bid to combat the challenges threatening the growth in the cruise industry in Europe.

Bosses from Royal Caribbean Cruise Line, Costa Crociere, MSC Cruises, Silversea Cruises and AIDA Cruises told delegates at the European Cruise Conference in Brussels that they plan to set up working parties to deal with major issues such as the environment and port overcrowding.

RCCL managing director EMEA Susan Hooper called for the ECC, government and working parties formed by the council to take on the hurdles faced by the sector. There are also plans to set up a European policy entitled Tourists onto the Water.

She said: “This is the first time we have all sat down together to discuss what we agree on rather than what we disagree on.

“There is a massive increase in growth in the European cruise industry. We have had a lot of discussions about ports and capacity, but the reality is the ships are coming and we have a responsibility to take that growth.

“If it doesn’t go here, it will go somewhere else. Right now there is definitely a heightened focus on Europe.”

MSC Cruises chief executive Pier Francesco Vago said that with customers being more environmentally conscious, the cruiselines also need to recognise this.

“We need to promote the fact that what we have is more environmentally friendly than a hotel leisure holiday,” he said.

AIDA Cruises president Michael Thamm suggested that there should be a unified approach on environmental issues from not only the operators but the manufacturers and suppliers in cruising. 

Costa Crociere president Gianni Onorato said: “The main thing to do is to keep working together. It is important that we work outside the port areas as well.”