The European cruise season starts in earnest in April when the luxurious cruiseships make their way north from various locations around the globe.

Here in Falmouth the port is expecting up to 40 ships to call, dependant upon the Covid-19 situation. Itinerary planners have had the worst two years on record trying to keep abreast with port regulations implemented by various countries in the wake of the pandemic.

The first cruiseship to call here will be the MS Hamburg arriving from South America after completing an Antarctic cruise. The luxurious ships Viking Jupiter, Silver Moon and Silver Whisper will follow the MS Hamburg in April and May along with Amera, and AIDAaura. June is set to be a busy month with calls from Volendam, Viking Mars, Island Princess, Silver Whisper, Europa 2 and the MS Hamburg again.

All is not lost due to Covid restrictions as the European cruiseship season generates enormous wealth for the region.

The figures from 2010 until 2019 make interesting reading. During this period the number of embarkations has risen from 5.6m to 7.6m, with an estimated 53.96 m passengers and crew visiting European shores according to figures published by Cruise Europe and compiled by Bermello Ajamil& Partners Europe.

Direct expenditure by the cruise lines, crew and passengers for the period equate to €25.7 billion generating 193,000 full time jobs. Indirect expenditure of €31.88 billion generated 220,900 jobs.

In the next five years a further 82 ships will join the world fleet of cruiseships representing a further 195,000 lower berths.

Cruising, to a degree, is still in uncharted waters, particularly in the United States, where the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is keeping a weather eye on the cruise industry. Last December it advised would be passengers to not go cruising although this mantra has been revised somewhat in recent weeks. The CDC has warned that cruising right now carries a risk of getting and spreading the virus, regardless of vaccination status.

This month alone has seen some of the leading companies, including Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines and AIDA Cruises, cancelling cruises due to travel restrictions, Covid or for other operational reasons. Norwegian operator Hurtigruten cut short a cruise to Antarctic.

Oceanwide Cruises have pulled the plug on two ships cruising in Antarctica due to Covid.

"Unfortunately the increasing numbers of Covid-infections due to the new variant (Omicron), both in Argentina/Ushuaia and onboard of our vessels impacted our operations," the company said in a statement. "As a direct consequence, more passengers had to be quarantined. Also the new quarantine measures imposed by the Argentinian authorities resulted in delayed disembarkations and thus delayed embarkations. As a result of these changing circumstances, we were also concerned for the working conditions of our crew and staff.

"Taking all factors into consideration and not being able to guarantee the comfort and safety of our passengers, crew and staff, we have decided to postpone the remaining voyages of our Antarctica season with our vessels Hondius and Plancius," the company said.

Crystal Cruises has suspended operations until April as owner, Hong Kong based Genting, has cash flow problems, resulting in the Crystal ships being thrust into the spotlight for possible acquisition.