Welcome to the June/July issue of Cruise Trade News, which includes a special supplement dedicated to luxury cruising.
Robust, resilient, stronger. Those three words summed up the general feeling and outlook at the CLIA Conference 2022, held in Southampton at the end of May.
With 550 delegates in attendance, cruise industry bosses sought to reiterate and reassure travel agents that the future is bright – and they have a key part to play in the industry’s success.
As Royal Caribbean International VP EMEA and CLIA UK & Ireland chair Ben Bouldin explained, 2023 is on course to be a bigger and better year than 2019, when cruise was booming pre pandemic.
Opportunity, therefore, is knocking, and the industry is sending a clear message: travel agents are more important than ever.
Take, for example, P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow’s words: “Agents are still – and will be for a long time, if not ever – the major source of business for our brand.” Read more about the event in our coverage in The Briefing.
Elsewhere in this issue, we examine the changing relationship between cruise lines and destinations, with new ways of working and greater collaboration the order of the day.
We also look at the bold plans to make Qatar a major cruise hub and speak to A-Rosa River Cruises UK & Ireland MD Lucia Rowe about the line’s next chapter, which, as she describes, is rooted in its pioneering spirit.
On a personal note, I recently had the pleasure of sailing to the Norwegian fjords on Princess Cruises’ Royal-class ship Sky Princess for a very special occasion.
With my Medallion in hand and memorable ports of call throughout the itinerary, this made for a unique experience, which you can discover in this issue.
As for luxury cruising, the sector is changing. Previously, there was a clear distinction between those cruise lines that offered the ultra-luxury experience and those who sat more comfortably in the premium bracket.
However, many of those in the former are beginning to blur those lines, with innovative ship-within-a-ship concepts – such as MSC Cruises’ Yacht Club.
Many others are also increasing the level of exclusivity on their respective ships, in an attempt to offer a more elevated cruise holiday..
We also speak to Oceania Cruises EMEA senior VP and MD Bernard Carter, who provides the latest on the line’s OceaniaNext programme, plus his own opinion on the next evolution in luxury and current selling patterns.
In addition, Star Clippers’ GSA general manager Fay McCormack takes us through the operator’s plans to engage with the trade, while Windstar Cruises’ Star Legend proves to be a luxurious small-ship experience on a Barcelona to Athens itinerary.