Giles Hawke told the Clia River Conference in Paris he would “bet money” on more private equity firms looking to snap up river lines over the next five years as well as ocean lines swooping for already established river operators.
London-based investment firm Duke Street acquired A-Rosa Cruises in January, while river cruise and escorted tours specialist Riviera Travel has been the subject of several private equity deals in recent years.
Hawke, who is also the chief executive of Cosmos and Avalon Waterways, said: “I would bet money on the fact there will be consolidation and companies coming in and buying river cruise lines and forming massive super fleets [and] I would bet money on an ocean cruise line moving into river - it’s just a question of when.”
Echoing Hawke, Paul Melinis, APT UK managing director, said he saw future consolidation in the sector as “inevitable”.
“There’s certainly demand for it and we’ve seen the [passenger] numbers over the last few years just growing and growing so it’s going to happen at some stage,” he told delegates.