Cruise lines cannot build ships quickly enough to keep up with customer demand, according to a panel of experts.
Speaking to 100 delegates at Advantage Travel Partnership’s Latitude cruise conference held in Paris on board Uniworld’s Joie de Vivre, Giles Hawke, Celebrity Cruises’ vice-president and managing director EMEA, said there is a “huge opportunity” for agents to take advantage of customer demand, which is “getting bigger and bigger”.
He said new hardware entering the market is taking cruising to a “new level” and prompting a surge in demand from both cruise lovers and new-to-cruise customers, but lines are unable to build new vessels quickly enough to cater for it.
“There are more hotel beds in Las Vegas than cruise beds in the world and no one ever says Vegas has too many beds I think we have a really long way to go before we can over index on cruise ships,” said Hawke.
“We can’t build ships quickly enough to match the demand we know is coming. More people in the world are thinking about taking a cruise and the ships are getting better and better so there’s a huge opportunity here for agents.”
Antonio Paradiso, MSC Cruises’ managing director UK & Ireland, echoed Hawke’s thoughts, saying demand has “exploded” in some European markets following the pandemic.
He referenced Clia data which predicts 40 million people will take a cruise in 2027, up from 31.5 million this year, and said he thinks that figure will be reached sooner than expected.
Paradiso said: “Looking at data on demand across Europe, the number of UK customers wanting to cruise has grown rapidly, demand from the French and German markets has exploded, as well as the Spanish and Italian markets.
“There isn’t enough capacity. We were planning on having a break from ship building after MSC World America which is being delivered in 2025, but just this week we announced plans to build two new World-class vessels by 2027.
“There is a real appetite for cruising and we can’t keep up with the demand.”