Cruise Shipping Miami officially opened Tuesday, March 11, with the State of the Global Cruise Industry plenary session featuring the top executive from the world’s larger cruise corporations, including Carnival’s president and CEO, Arnold Donald; Royal Caribbean’s chairman and CEO, Richard Fain; Norwegian Cruise Line’s CEO and president, Kevin Sheehan; and MSC Cruises’ executive chairman, Pierfrancesco Vago.
Before the cruise industry’s top brass started their conversation with moderator Katty Kay, anchor of BBC World News America, Christine Duffy, president and CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), took to the stage to update the audience on the state of the industry in 2014. Calling Cruise Shipping Miami the “most important annual event of the cruise industry,” Duffy touched on these highlights:
• The top 2014 cruise trends are: improved technology and connectivity at sea; luxury resurgence; more all-inclusive packages; multigenerational travel will increase; active vacations at sea; and millennials will drive first-time cruiser growth.
• The hot cruise destinations for 2014 are: TransPacific; US rivers/exotic rivers; South America; Antarctic; World Cruises; Africa; the Middle East; and Canada/New England.
• There were 21.3 million passengers in 2013, with 2014 estimated to attract 21.7 million passengers.
• During the 2014/2015 season, 24 new ships will set sail, adding 38,000 beds.
• The major consumer motivators for taking a cruise include: value/price (86.6 percent); destination/itineraries (77.7 percent); cruise brand reputation (76 percent); home port (61.3 percent) and lifestyle amenities (39.3 percent).
• The top passenger source country continues to be the United States, with a 51.7 percent share of the marketplace.
• In a recent CLIA survey, more than 70 percent of travel agents expect sales to range from good to excellent in 2014.
During the plenary session, one of the points that was bought up again and again, was that the biggest challenge was attracting new clients—those “new to cruise” clients. “That’s one of the challenges in the cruise industry right now,” said Carnival’s Donald. He added that, “If we wow the guest, the demand will grow,” and again, it’s wowing that “new to cruise” client, since, as was mentioned during the panel discussion, if you’ve taken a cruise, you are fives times as likely to take another cruise.
Sheehan pointed out that it’s important for each cruise line to do something different to attract that first-time cruiser. In the case of Norwegian, that would be, for example, “Rock of Ages” and the “Blue Man Group.” Thinking of “ships as a destination is critical,” Sheehan said.
Regarding the future of cruising, Royal Caribbean’s Fain said that “I’m feeling very good of the years ahead,” and Sheehan pointed out that the cruise industry—or as MSC’s Vago calls it, “the sexy industry”—is “going to continue to be at the forefront of innovation. If we want to be successful, we need to continue to innovate.” Adding to that positive vibe, Donald declared, “We are a happy industry. We provide joyful vacations.”
For more information on Cruise Shipping Miami, visit cruiseshippingevents.com/en/miami.