The current boom in shipbuilding is set to end due to the escalating costs, delegates were told at the Seatrade Europe conference in Hamburg last week.

Carnival UK chief executive David Dingle said the weak dollar means new ship builds are very expensive and margins are tight for shipyards.

He said: “At the moment there is a good balance between supply and demand in terms of new ships being built, but I don’t think we will see a massive splurge of new orders. That means a moderation in capacity, which is good as it keeps pricing in order.”

MSC Cruises chief executive officer Pierfrancesco Vago said there was still a superficial knowledge of cruising in Europe and more tonnage meant greater awareness and penetration.

He added: “We have ships on order up to 2010 and will be watching closely to see the costs of new builds, but it is very possible we will have to carry on building.”

Susan Hooper, Royal Caribbean International senior vice-president international and managing director EMEA, pointed out that the cruise industry in Europe is 20 years behind North America in terms of penetration of the market.

She said: “All the indications point to growth so I am bullish on this. I don’t think the building programme will be checked.”