This article was first published in the Itinerary Planning Special Report 2017. All information was correct at the time of printing, but may since have changed.
Within the cruise industry, matching an offering with the tastes of certain demographics is something of a fine art. If done well, it can help to secure recurring business and enable growth.
With different regions offering specific points of appeal, it’s important that itineraries are kept fresh and in-keeping with current tourism trends. Making sure the best possible attractions are available and accessible at each port of call is another key element to ensuring passenger numbers grow.
But how are cruise associations and destinations working to achieve this? And what trends are they contending with?
In Scandinavia, the region’s scenery and culture have been increasingly attractive to cruise lines aiming to provide passengers with a different type of European cruise. But more is now being done to attract the populations of countries such as Norway, Denmark and Sweden to take a cruise themselves.
“All the way back since the Viking age, Norwegians have enjoyed travelling the world,” says Sandra Diana Bratland, managing director of Cruise Norway. “Approximately 40 of every 1,000 Norwegians went on a cruise in 2015, which was one of the top rankings in Europe. Of the Nordic source markets, Norwegians account for 60%. Due to its northerly location, Norwegians tend to seek out the sun and the sea, and popular destinations are the Mediterranean and the Caribbean – especially during the Christmas season.”
Growth is a trend throughout the Scandinavian region, according to Claus Bødker, director of Cruise Baltic.
“The Scandinavian source markets, including Finland, are all increasing year on year,” he says. “In 2015, for example, 351,000 Scandinavians went on a cruise, which is an increase of almost 15% compared to the previous year. This is among the highest rates of increase in Europe. In general, Scandinavians are bringing about an above-average increase in the number of cruise passengers when compared to the rest of Europe.”
Across the North Sea in Britain, statistics make for equally pleasing reading. A 19% increase in day call visitors was recorded in 2016, with numbers reaching around 1.21 million. With many ports also investing in developments, it is hoped that the cruise line and passenger experience will continue to appeal to the region’s key source markets.
“Round Britain cruises are increasingly popular as they’re an ideal way of exploring Britain’s diversity of coasts, castles, cities and countryside,” says Angie Redhead, chair of CruiseBritain. “The short sailing distances to adjoining countries add to the itinerary possibilities. This appeals to Brits themselves, as well as overseas passengers looking to experience northern Europe. Industry growth shows no sign of slowing down and is testament to our world-class attractions and the tireless work of our members and of the British cruise industry.”
Redhead adds that as a source market, Britain itself continues to grow behind the US and Germany.
Though many would associate European cruising with the Mediterranean and northern Europe, one shouldn’t forget that the industry in eastern Europe is beginning to thrive as well.
Elvira Leshchinskaya, head of external relations and development at Odessa Seaport Authority in Ukraine, reports that significant work is being done to increase cruising in the Black Sea region and tap into the numerous source markets in that part of the world.
“We, in close cooperation with representatives from Constantza, Romania; Istanbul, Turkey; Burgas and Varna, Bulgaria; and Batumi, Georgia, are trying to develop the Black Sea cruises with the homeporting in Istanbul,” she says.
In Odessa itself, recent refurbishments to the passenger terminal are helping to prepare the port to accommodate an anticipated growth in numbers.
“Considering the given data of the population and tourists annually visiting our Odessa region, we have started the preliminary measures together with the government for the development of short passenger trips between the main Ukrainian resorts,” says Leshchinskaya. “The number of potential tourists for this in summer period is around 5.8 million.”
Cruise lines and destinations are tapping into source markets with success, and cruising is showing positive signs in Europe. But can the same be said for other regions?
“Cruise Saint Lawrence groups together nine ports of call, including ports of embarkation and disembarkation at Montréal and Québec,” explains Lisanne Ross, communications coordinator at Cruise Saint Lawrence in Canada. “Almost 70% of cruise ship passengers here originate from the US – the states of California, Texas and Florida in particular – and the Canada New England region. Holland America Line, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Crystal Cruises, Silversea Cruises and Viking Ocean Cruises are the cruise lines which currently generate the greatest number of visits by US-based passengers.”
In South Africa, providing unique offerings is key to tapping into source markets.
“A number of initiatives are underway to add to Cape Town’s tourism appeal and ease of access, including ongoing development at the terminal, the September 2017 opening of the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa and the opening of new hotels, including the Radisson Red V&A Waterfront,” says Donald Kau, PR and communications manager at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. “Plans are underway to increase the capacity at Africa’s top rated airport for service, Cape Town International Airport. We are also partners to local, provincial and national tourism authorities including the Western Cape Investment and Trade Promotions Agency to ensure passengers from our key source markets head for Cape Town.”
It appears a keen focus on enhancing facilities and offerings are vital to ensuring that identified source markets continue to grow.
“One of the many reasons that the cruise industry continues to thrive is because of the personalisation it is able to offer to its guests from around the world,” says Cindy D’Aoust, president and CEO of CLIA. “Never before have I been a part of or seen an industry that is so good at listening and reacting to what its customers want, and this is why we are going to see our industry continue to grow.”