The number of Europeans that took a cruise holiday rose by 3.1% to 6.6 million last year, a marked acceleration of growth from a mere 0.5% recorded in 2014, figures released by CLIA Europe showed.
However, the growth rate of the market last year came slightly below an average of 3.4% recorded in 2011-15.
Germany was the biggest source market in Europe in terms of passenger numbers, with 1.81 million, an increase of just 2% on 2014. However, its growth slowed drastically from an average rate of 8.3% over the past five years. The German market produced 15.8 million bed nights, the second highest figure in Europe, and the average duration of cruises taken by Germans was 8.7 nights, the figures show.
The UK generated 1.79 million passengers, an increase of 8.8% year-on, whereby the market returned to growth after a 5% decline in passenger number in 2014. The 2015 growth rate was also well above the average figure of 2.1% for the past five years.
In terms of bed bights, the UK was the largest source market in Europe, with 19.8 million bed nights in 2015. The average duration of a cruise booked in Britain was 11.1 nights.
Spain returned to growth last year, with a 2.7% rise in passenger numbers, which reached 466,000. Italy recorded a 32,000 passenger decline and produced 810,000 passengers last year. Belgium, Switzerland, Austria and the Netherlands also suffered a drop in volumes.
In all, the European source market covered 57.6 million bed nights and the average duration of a cruise taken by Europeans was 8 nights, CLIA Europe figures show.