A Southern Cone cruise (Uruguay, Argentina, Falkland Islands and Chile) was described as “the best in the world” by John Tercek, Vice President of Commercial Development, Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited, at last week’s Seatrade Cruise Shipping Miami.
Mr Tercek commented, however, that high port costs in the region were a problem, but when asked if there was any indication that Argentina intended to follow Chile’s decision to reduce port costs, Mr Tercek said that very positive talks with countries in the region were ongoing and the cruise industry had in no way “closed the door” on them.
A common thread at Cruise Shipping Miami, one of the world's most important and largest annual meetings for the cruise industry was the resilience of the industry coming out of the worst recession in decades.
Stein Cruise, President and CEO of Holland America Line quoted Warren Buffet, and supported his confident outlook on the USA economy, “Uncertainty is always going to be around, but I believe that 2011 is far more certain than past years… the cruise industry is creative, innovative, focused and strong, and it has its best days ahead.”
During the ‘New building and Revitalization’, shipbuilding session, it was noted that fifteen newbuilds were set for delivery in 2011. The first of the year was Disney Cruise Line’s “Disney Dream”; Disney’s largest ship yet at 128,000 gross tons and able to carry 4,000 passengers.
Among the 2011 newbuilds, “Marina” was launched by Oceania Cruises in February and German cruise line Aida is set to launch “AidaSol” in April. Carnival Cruise Lines will debut “Carnival Magic” (3,690 passengers.) “Seabourn Quest” (Seabourn Cruise Line) will set sail in June and Celebrity Cruises, “Celebrity Silhouette” in July (2,850 passengers).
Richard D Meadows President Designate of Seabourn Cruise Line who addressed the ‘Luxury at Sea’ session: “today luxury buyers place more emphasis on being rather than having.”
The panel agreed that the focus of affluent travelers has shifted from wanting ‘things’ to wanting experiences.
Mr Meadows said, “… and with the number of households with a net worth of more than $1 million topping 11 million worldwide, the growth potential that luxury lines have is huge.”
In a charismatic presentation from Hugh Darley, President/Executive Producer Idea Inc. Mr Darley emphasized the need for first impressions of ports to match the passengers’ expectations.
He said new designs should “tell the story of the destination,” and involve the community. He felt it unfortunate that very often the passengers’ first impression of a destination was of an industrial container site.
While Mr Darley spoke from the point of view of brand new terminal design, there was a general emphasis, that bearing in mind the increasingly sophisticated entertainment on board ships it was all the more important for every cruise destination port to appear attractive and enticing in order to compel passengers to leave the ship.
Air emissions regulations were a point of heated debate at the conference but the issue of high fuel prices overwhelmed many discussions, with Giora Israel, SVP, Port and Destination Development, Carnival Corporation & PLC, noting that from July 2008 it was clear that, “fuel would drive the way we look at where we put our ships.”
The industry agreed that the price of fuel meant slower steaming times overnight with ships arriving at ports later and leaving earlier; in turn the industry preferred their port destinations to be no more than 200 miles apart.
Overall, however, the feeling was cautiously optimistic; executives described the industry as “not booming but growing”; with typical comments being “regular new ships”, “the world is becoming more middle class,” and “massive potential for market expansion.”
For over 26 years, Cruise Shipping Miami has brought together top industry suppliers, quality cruise line buyers and decision makers from around the world for 3 days of exhibition and 4 days of conference.
Lisa Watson - SeAled PR - Miami