Seatrade Cruise Global is the biggest annual event for the cruise industry, attracting exhibitors and participants from around the world.
It’s more than just an opportunity for cruise lines’ leading lights to tell us how well they are doing, as Carnival’s Arnold Donald, MSC’s Pierfrancesco Vago, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Frank del Rio, and Royal Caribbean’s Richard Fain did again at the opening session.
Pretty well, was the answer by the way. Partly due to the “Trump effect” boosting business and consumer confidence in the US, according to del Rio. Mind you, the cruise operators are equally likely to tell how their business rode out recession. Boom or bust, they never seem to lose.
It’s more than a forum for the manufacturers of everything from bearings to seasickness remedies, and from fast food to life jackets to show off their wares.
It’s more than a place for the world’s destinations to put on a show that almost matches London’s annual World Travel Market for brash bravado. The familiar names were there in big numbers, along with some places you might never of heard of – all hoping to attract more ships and more customers bringing visitors carrying their wallets and credit cards.
Among them were the crowd from Cruise Britain, representatives from England, Scotland (in their kilts) Wales and Northern Ireland; ports such as Liverpool and Portland all eager to show what they could offer.
In Fort Lauderdale again this year for the second year of a three-year exile from Miami where the convention centre is being re-built, Seatrade is more than just a giant exhibition with a few earnest seminars on itinerary planning, safety at sea, ship refurbishments and design, adventure and luxury.
It’s not even the pop-up drinks receptions and food tastings in the cavernous main hall.
The real business is carried out at the restaurants and hotels elsewhere in the city. Celebrity Cruises chose the day before Seatrade’s opening to introduce their new Edge concept; Carnival can always be relied on to bring their brands together for a media get-together with top execs. For some reason, Porthole magazine always puts on a party in a decadent nightclub.
It’s also a chance for suited businessmen to mingle with the crowds of scantily-clad students enjoying Spring Break on the beach.
So it surprises me that so few representatives from the UK trade feel the need to take part.