The number of cruise passengers passing through EU ports dropped 91% between 2019 and 2020, to 1.3 million, recent data from the Eurostat has revealed. Although cruise passengers represent only a small percentage of the total number of passengers embarking and disembarking in EU ports, they continue to play an important role in the ports and countries where the cruise movement is concentrated.
1. Italy, Spain and France with busiest ports
In 2019, the total number of passengers who embarked and disembarked in EU ports reached a peak with 419 million, after a gradual recovery over the last five years. In 2020, nearly 86% of the total number of cruise passengers who embarked and disembarked at EU ports did so at ports in Italy, Spain and France.
With 631,000 cruise passengers, Spain was the country that contributed the most to cruise passenger traffic in the EU in 2020 (47%). Italy, which usually has the greatest weight, followed with 307,000 passengers who boarded and disembarked on cruises in 2020. The port of Messina remained the largest EU passenger port in 2020, with 7.7 million passengers.
2. Poland defeats the trend
Compared with the previous year, only Poland registered an increase in 2020 compared to 2019, from 179 passengers to 306 in 2020 (+70.9%). Denmark and Ireland did not register any cruise passengers in 2020, having had 423,000 and 440,000 in 2019, respectively. In addition to these two countries, Malta and Sweden recorded the biggest falls in 2020 compared to 2019 (both -99.9%).
Among the remaining EU countries, five had a decrease of over 90% in the same period and for four EU Member States and Norway, the fall was between 75% and 90%. Among all countries, Finland had the least decline, albeit substantial, at –15.3%.
3. Eurostat’s data
The data for this study refers to the total of 22 EU maritime Member States. The Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports. Norway and Iceland provide Eurostat with data as members of the European Economic Area (EEA). Still, the EEA country Liechtenstein has no maritime ports. As for, Montenegro and Turkey, they provide data as candidate countries.