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Cruise Europe Celebrates 30 Years of Sea Change in the Industry

8th August 2021
Michael McCarthy has been chair of Cruise Europe since 2012
Michael McCarthy has been chair of Cruise Europe since 2012 Credit: Cruise Europe

Industry body Cruise Europe is looking back over 30 years of development and growth since its formation in 1991.

The idea for network to promote cruises in Northern Europe was first suggested during the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention and Exhibition in Miami in March 1990.

The following year a working party — drawn from the ports of Bergen and Oslo in Norway, Ghent in Belgium, Rouen in France, Tilbury in England, Cromarty Firth in eastern Scotland and Cork in Ireland — distributed a business prospectus to potential members under the working title of the North European Ports Co-Operative.

At the time the idea was to encourage more cruise visits to the area and extend the season beyond the month of June, July and August.

In December 1991 in Copenhagen, the fledgling group was formally constituted at an EGM where 21 port members joined together under the title of Cruise Europe.

The official launch would take place at the next Seatrade Cruise Convention in Miami, where Tim Harris, then CEO of P&O Cruises, commented that over the next decade cruising would become a truly worldwide industry.

His prediction would prove to be correct, as within a year Costa Cruises began dipping its toes in the Northern European market. By 1996, the region had caught the attention of Royal Caribbean whose Splendour of the Seas was home-ported in Harwich in Eessex.

At Cruise Europe’s AGM in Le Havre in 2013, cruise analyst Peter Wild stated that the European source market reached 6.2 million out of the world total of 20.6 million in 2012 — a remarkable achievement just 12 years after the idea was first floated.

The year 2012 also saw the election of Michael McCarthy — formerly of the Port of Cork — as chair of Cruise Europe. It’s a post he still holds today, and he is looking forward to the future after the recent challenges of COVID-19.

“Nobody can articulate the impact of the current pandemic on the cruise industry with catastrophic losses, downsizing of fleets, the removal of ‘older’ ships, and future capacity being moderated by the phased re-entry of ships and delays in new ship deliveries,” he says.

“However, the cruise industry is resilient and CE will continue to partner with the cruise lines, modernise our way of communication, strengthen and improve our media work and increase the activity of regional meetings.

“Full cruise ships will sail again and CE will continue to play a leading role in keeping abreast of environmental and sustainability issues in tackling climate change and the ‘greening’ of the industry.”

Find more on the Cruise Europe website HERE.

Published in Cruise Liners Team

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