Speaking at a panel debate on the cruise industry at World Routes 2017 in Barcelona, Celestyal Cruises CEO and CLIA Europe chair Kyriakos Anastassiadis said the traditional Mediterranean cruise market revolves around the summer months.
However, with Chinese travellers more interested in shopping and seeing the sites, he believes there is an opportunity to be exploited.
Anastassiadis said: “Someone from China would love to come and visit Europe in the months of January, February and March. They prefer short vacations and do lots of shopping and site-seeing.
“We have to create that market and we can do it by putting in the flights, making the destinations ready and providing them with the correct environment. Airlines can switch routes over the year.”
Anastassiadis added the route development industry needs to understand what cruisers want from a holiday and ensure they help them get it. In particular he said many people choose a cruise because of its convenience.
He also predicted that with 3,700 ports globally, and only 160 considered large ports, there is considerable room for expansion.
And with 81 cruise ships currently on the order books, the aviation industry should prepare itself for considerable expansion on the 25 million customers predicted to take a cruise next year.
Aeroports de Catalunya commercial director Oscar Oliver added many cruise customers are forced to take indirect flights to start their holidays. He added in 2016 more than 80,000 Australians had to take indirect flights to Barcelona in order to start a cruise.