• Jason Leppert

State of The Cruise Industry: Top Executives Share Their Thoughts

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Annually at Seatrade Cruise Global, executives from the mainstream companies take to the stage for a moderated discussion about the global industry, and usually the broad topics are repeats from years past. However, some new tidbits also make their way in here and there for 2016, and this time, niche cruise line executives were included in a welcome change of pace.

If you’re interested in checking out the entire session for yourself, I Periscoped it live, and now its available on my Popular Cruising YouTube channel and embedded below.

The so-called State of the Global Cruise Industry panel was cleverly broken down into a 4-1-3 format with Peter Greenberg first moderating the following four participants: Frank Del Rio, president & CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd.; Arnold Donald, president & CEO, Carnival Corporation; Richard Fain, chairman & CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. and Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises. Discussions included big ticket destinations like Cuba and China, overcoming travel fears and cruise misconceptions, and the benefits of having travel agents to convey the industry message.

Cuba and China

In regards to Cuba, Carnival Corp. just got final approval from the Cuban government to cruise to the Caribbean country with its new Fathom brand, and MSC Cruises’ Vago believes the region has potential. His company already goes there with international clientele, and he says Cuba has the infrastructure to handle it.

However, Norwegian’s Del Rio predicts a maximum ship capacity of 2,000 guests being most likely. By comparison, Fathom will be deploying the Adonia, which is only a 700-passenger ship. Carnival’s Donald also reflects on how Costa Cruises managed the Havana terminal prior to the line’s acquisition, so he explains the corporate experience is in place to sail there. His thinking is that Cuba will also be a means of generating renewed interest in the Caribbean with former guests wanting to return more now.

Additionally, the cruise lines continue to dedicate resources to the Chinese cruise market, as Donald revealed that China is the largest outbound tourism nation in the world, and Princess Cruises, for instance, is preparing the Majestic Princess specifically for their tastes including custom game parlors in the casino. However, Royal Caribbean’s Fain believes that gambling is secondary to the overall cruise experience.

Fears and Misconceptions

The world remains a volatile place as terrorist attacks continue. But Vago says the industry is resilient among fear, and Donald adds that the industry is fine as long as people don’t panic. Fain gives spec

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