One in four spot Royal in Europe

One in four spot Royal in Europe

In his first official role as Managing Director, Royal Caribbean International’s Adam Armstrong is expecting its various European ocean cruising offerings to be some of the company’s most successful in spite of increased violence in recent weeks in the region.

“Tourism in Europe does continue despite these events,” Armstrong told guests at the RCI Europe 2016 launch, referring to last year’s Paris incident and most recently, the Brussels attacks.

“Travel and tourism contributes US$450 billion to the Europe’s GDP and will be something Europeans want to protect”, he continued.

With 1.2 million trips taken by Aussies annually to Europe, 60% of which leisure travelers who spend on average 30-35 days, river and ocean cruising are on the rise as popular preferred ways to travel in the region, according to Armstrong.

Globally, the region ranks as the second most popular ocean cruising destination in the world, second only to the Caribbean, with just under 6 million people, or one in five, taking a river or ocean cruise to Europe each year. Almost 100,000 of which Australians and one in four taking a Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises and Azamara Club Cruise.

Armstrong said 25,000 are expected to sail on one of 16 of its three sister ships which will sail in Europe his year, representing a five-fold growth since opening representation offices down under in 2008.

In particular, the launch of the biggest cruise ship in the world, Harmony of the Seas, which will sail from Barcelona with 6700 guests onboard is expected to be popular boasting the “most choice of dining and entertainment in the world”, but on the flip side, its smaller 650-passenger Azamara boutique ships are expected to appeal to different clientele, Armstrong said.

“Savvy Australian travellers are starting to think about off the beaten tracks in European destinations. There’s big demand in cruising in Northern Europe, Iceland, the Baltic and old romantic destinations of Greece, Italy and developing countries like Croatia and Malta,” Armstrong said, adding that the cruise line responded with additional itineraries to meet demand.

Armstrong said now was the best time to be booking a European cruise as there are “fantastic deals to be had from air and land”.

“We’re seeing strong interest from Aussie travellers making plans to return in 2016.  As well as having solid advance bookings, we are also experiencing healthy late demand for cruises leaving in the next two to three months,” Armstrong said.

“It’s a really cost effective time to be booking a holiday as travellers can lock in rates in AUD and protected from the currently fluctuations. It can be an expensive continent to travel in, and we can lock you in,” he said.

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