Delegates at the first Passenger Shipping Association Retail Agents Scheme UK Cruise Convention will hear how the European cruise market is developing from the perspective of the US, the world’s largest cruise market.
MSC Cruises president and chief executive Richard Sasso will tell the convention how Europe is just starting out on the road to developing a mature cruise market driven by the same kind of focus on supply and marketing of product that has underpinned the US market for three decades.
“Optimism is very high because market penetration is still so low. Now the supply side of things is improving and you see European companies such as MSC investing €4.5 billion in new ships,” he said.
“We can’t build the ships fast enough.”
Sasso believes even in North America the cruise industry is still some way off reaching its maximum potential with just 15% of Americans having taken a cruise and the sector accounting for just 3% of the overall holiday market.
However, the sector this side of the Atlantic could see even greater successes for cruise than the US, Sasso added, because of the greater amount of disposable income and holiday entitlement of Europe customers.
The three-and-a-half million Europeans who cruise annually is around the same number as in the US in the 1990s, since which time has grown rapidly to 10 million.
Sasso, who has spent 36 years in cruise, said the industry seems to have an in-built insulation against downturns caused by world events.
“We have ships that we can move anywhere we want,” he said.
“No matter what hardships and adversity, this industry still surpasses the passenger numbers from the year before. It’s an extraordinary business.”