By Humphrey Carter

EUROPE'S cruise industry is preparing for further growth and of the 51 cruise liners currently on shipyard order books, 21 are for European brands and European markets, in particular the Mediterranean.

While Europe's traditional sun and sand holiday market is in credit crunch and weak currency turmoil, the cruise market appears to be plotting a course for continued growth which is going to benefit the most popular Mediterranean resorts such as Palma.

Majorca has been handling record cruise line traffic so far this summer and the winter season is also starting to look brighter and busier.
Cruise industry sources have revealed that some of the American-based cruise lines are moving into the lucrative European market with a few planning to operate all-year cruises in the Mediterranean. And TUI Cruises is planning to launch a joint venture next year.

Royal Caribbean and the NCL Star Group are going to have cruise liners in the Med. for the first time this winter.
The dominant cruise market continues to be the UK but Italy, Germany, Spain and France are also driving the boom.
Europe is considered the market with the most potential.
The US market is well consolidated while the European sector offers room for further development and has a much larger market to tap than the US.
What is more, Europeans have a tradition of taking more holidays and have more disposable income.
The debate about remodeling and expanding Palma's cruise port rages on but little is being done to keep up to speed with a growing sector of the tourist industry.