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Cruises - All Over Europe

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Compared to other continents, Europe is relatively small. It makes sense to explore it by sea as much of its outer boundaries is enclosed by water. Europe in all its glory is more manifest this way, in water or ashore. The golden domes of Istanbul, the fjords of Norway, the inscrutable Sphinx- these are some of the sights on offer. There are other facets too, like the celebrated French Riviera or the everyday attractions of busy London roads and pubs and the street side cafes of Paris. The cruise companies nonetheless feel that the ship should be a destination in itself, striving to promote comfort and convenience, and a wide range of entertainment and leisure activities.

The leading cruise companies of Europe are represented by the European Cruise Council (ECC) with 30 cruise members and 34 associate members. This body takes care of cruise ship operators in Europe in liaison with EU institutions, and other European bodies. The ECC also promotes and encourages expansion of the European cruise market to a wider public audience, working closely with a number of regional bodies such as Cruise Baltic, Cruise Europe, Cruise Norway and Med Cruise.

The European cruise industry continues to remain an important economic contributor with European ship building being a valuable industrial contributor as a relaxation of economic caution and design rule changes indicate more positive signals for orders beyond 2014. At its fifth annual conference this year, it is reported that the ECC plans to invest USD 15 billion in acquisition of 23 new cruise ships, signaling more jobs. More than 90% of all cruise ships are built in Europe.

It has commended the industry for its active role in Europe's economic recovery with high safety and environmental standards. A variety of policy matters, from sustainable tourism, and piracy to sulphur emissions were discussed. Statistics show that in 2010, goods and services worth ?35.2 billion were generated, commanding 30 % of the global market with 5.5 million Europeans opting for cruises. A 54% jump in people employed was recorded, compared to 2005.

However, higher fuel costs and more stringent environmental regulations will necessitate alteration of itineraries by the middle of the decade as counteractive measures. This means reduced cruise speeds, distances traveled and sometimes the number of ports visited. Already cruises to nearby ports such as France, Spain, Portugal and Norway are being promoted as a concomitant measure. Though the companies try their best to conform to new rules and regulations, can the growing plethora of regulations on the environmental front signal an uncomfortable time ahead?

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