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The cruise market begins 2015 enthusiastically

The cruise market confirms its growth while, CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association, foresees new growth in the number of passengers in 2015. The sector thus fully benefits cities that figure among the ports of call for cruises such as Marseille.

The CLIA, Cruise Lines International Association, is optimistic about the market situation in 2015. It expects to reach a record 23 million passengers this year (with 270 cruise liners sailing the seas), versus 22.1 million in 2014. 61% of certified CLIA travel agents have already observed an increase in reservations between January 2014 and 2015.

As far as the supply is concerned, the fleet worldwide continues to grow with close to 1,000 new exotic ports of call in 2015 and 22 new ships, representing an investment of more than 4 billion dollars, or close to 3.5 billion euros, and 20,000 new beds.

While the cruise industry generated more than 117 billion dollars in 2013 (or close to 103 billion euros) and and provided nearly 900,000 jobs in 2013, its impact on tourism and the international economy is not negligible. This is clear locally, as may be seen in the city of Marseille which must also adapt to growth in supply and demand worldwide.

Marseille, a growth market despite strikes

The Club de la Croisière Marseille Provence counted 1.35 million cruise goers throughout 2014 (and some 530 ports of call), versus 1.19 million in 2013. Market growth could have been stronger on the period if it hadn't been slowed down by conflicts stemming from the SNCM (Société Nationale Maritime Corse Méditerranée). After insolvency proceedings by the commercial court of Marseille last November, striking employees of the SNCM diverted 18 ships to neighboring ports. According to the Club de la Croisière MP, these actions concerned 37,100 tourists and represented a loss estimated at 6.2 million euros in revenues.

Results on the sector are nonetheless encouraging and allow the new director of the Club de la croisière Marseille Provence, Jean-François Suhas (appointed in January), to hope to reach 1.5 million cruise goers in 2015, and 2 millions in 2018, according to a statement in the daily newpaper La Provence. The Allure of the Sea of Royal Caribbean (360m) will come to the Mediterranean for the first time, calling at port 22 times in the city this year and the group Princess Cruises will return to the city with 22 calls. The director of the Club de la croisière Marseille Provence is also counting on a recuperation of the SNCM by one of the four candidates expected to calm the tension in the port thereby preventing Marseille from being black-listed by maritime companies.

To welcome these new ships, the city had to modernize its port with the implementation of the terminal called Joliette (reserved for "luxury" liners less than 200m long) in 2013 and its terminal B in 2014, which can accommodate seven ships at a time. Moreover after Spring 2015, the port will be able to accommodate the world's largest ships.

Marseilles' efforts to develop its cruise industry should pay off and impact the entire tourist industry in teh city. Hotels may expect to benefit from passengers at the beginning and end of their trip while shops and local leisure activities will surely profit from passengers that are visiting for the day.

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