As the cruise community gathers in Hamburg for the opening of Seatrade Europe 2015 Bernd Aufderheide president and ceo, Hamburg Messe und Congress GmbH, Chris Hayman chairman, Seatrade UBM EMEA, Michael Ungerer president, CLIA Germany and Daniel Thiriet vice president, IG RiverCruise discussed at a media briefing this morning the key topics which will be covered during this year’s event, which takes place at Hamburg Messe und Congress from Wednesday 9 to Friday 11 September.
Mr Aufderheide was enthusiastic about the 8th edition of the event. ‘This year’s event will see over 250 exhibitors from more than 50 countries around the world showcasing innovations and exhibiting their products and services. We also have the supplier workshop where senior buyers from Meyer Werft, together with Meyer Turku Oy, and Neptun Werft will network with suppliers to the cruise lines. More than 90 suppliers from all over the world have registered for this workshop.’Seatrade Europe also continues to be the only event of its kind in the world which includes river cruising.
Michael Ungerer gave participants an update on the latest figures for the cruise industry in Germany, acknowledging that ‘the German cruise market in the past few years has been a success story’ and is now second in the world, just behind the US, with over 1.7 million Germans going on a cruise in 2014. The success also continues, with 6.4 billion Europeans booking a cruise in 2014, which represents about 34% of all cruise bookings worldwide’ he continued.
Mr Ungerer went on to talk about why cruising is such a popular holiday choice for Europeans. ‘Our success is based on a wide number of things. A wide range of destinations and target groups all covered by our products, including those who have not considered cruising before. Of course one of the most important factors is good value for money. Cruising is a lifestyle and the ships themselves are also becoming destinations in their own right.’
He also noted the challenges faced by the industry in making cruising ‘more sustainable’. ‘We have a lot of innovative ideas coming along making each ship better than the one before. Many of the CLIA member lines are supporting these political efforts with most using scrubbers for sulphur removal, but ports too have to do more for the environment with cruise ships spending 40% of their operating time in port.’ There were also discussions on the scope for growth of the cruise industry, ‘we will continue to grow here in Europe and worldwide but can only grow in relation to the supply of the cruise lines with more ship.’
The exhibition is complemented by a high level conference programme, where over 600 delegates have registered to hear from the leading cruise lines around the world who will share their expertise and take part in in-depth discussions on the industry. Chris Hayman talked through an overview of the remaining conference sessions for the event detailing the heavy hitters set to have the discussions throughout the 2.5 day event. ‘We are looking at an industry showing great growth potential, and each year we try to focus on a cross section of issues for ocean and river cruising, as well as the opportunity and challenges for the industry going forward’ Mr Hayman explained.
The State of the Industry opening conference session, taking place on Wednesday 9 September from 0930-1130 hrs will include a keynote address delivered by the current chairman of CLIA Europe, Pierfrancesco Vago. As an innovation this year’s moderator for the opening session will be the International Journalist & Broadcaster Todd Benjamin.
The river cruise market is very distinct from ocean cruising in terms of the products available and also the technical difficulties involved. Daniel Thiriet discussed the river cruise trends and explained that ‘compared with ocean cruising, ship traffic on rivers is still reasonably small, but things are growing. The US source market has contributed to this growth.’ Talking about the challenges with this sector he explained that they ‘do not have issues with the piracy but we have restricted infrastructure for the size of the ports.’
There were also discussions on the future price expectations for cruise holidays. ‘In the past two years the prices have risen, but that is partly linked with the fact that it is demand driven and there is not enough supply for the demand in the marked’ explained Mr Ungerer.
Cruise ship design will also be covered during the Seatrade Europe conference, and Chris Hayman was asked his thoughts on what the expectations would be for the next few years, or are the ships of 5,000 plus guests the limit and he explained that ‘there is an irreversible trend towards big ships’. The operating challenges will be covered in the Design for the Future and The Regulatory Framework for Cruise Operators in European Waters conference sessions due to take place during Seatrade Europe.