The leadership representing the four major cruise corporations sat down at an event in Miami Beach on Tuesday to discuss the present and future of the expanding cruise business.
What They Said:
“What people misunderstand about the cruise industry is that we are tiny, we are little,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation. “We are a very small industry and there are cities that have more tourists than the cruise industry does.”
What is his 10-year outlook? “The industry will still have low penetration. There will be bigger ships and smaller ships. The reality is the industry is very diversified and people want different things.”
Of note, there are over 120 new ships on order, according to the cruise ship orderbook.
“Yes, today is a very good time period in our history, but it’s because we are constantly looking forward,” said Richard Fain, chairman and CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises. Fain said the industry has remained highly diverse and differentiated and the new players are helping, bringing in new ideas and credibility to the industry.
Fain added that the overall trend was to appeal to more diverse generations.
“There is nothing on the horizon I see by the numbers my three brands are posting that any kind of slow down is on the horizon,” said Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings.
“To have a vibrant industry you need new entrants. It keeps us on our toes and competition is a wonderful thing for everyone,” added Del Rio.
Del Rio said there were many positives about the cruise industry, highlighted by local economic impact.
“The shopkeepers love us,” he noted.
Popularity wise, Del Rio said the Eastern Mediterranean is coming back in a big way.
“I’m rooting for Turkey,” said Del Rio. “The Eastern Med is a very big area and when the Eastern Med is quiet the Greek Isles, Black Sea and Holy Land are very popular. A lot of profitable capacity can (go there) … we are cautiously optimistic.”
“Let’s not forget the itineraries are the main drivers for the choice of the passenger to choose one ship or another. Itineraries also determine the size of the ship,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman, MSC Cruises, which is expected to make a major announcement with PortMiami later today.
“Whenever we have bigger ships in operation, the ship almost becomes a destination in itself with the bells and ‘wow’ effects,” he continued. “Obviously we need to create a seamless flow of the passenger embarking and disembarking.”
Vago underscored cruising was a global business.
“We are always trying to offer new destinations around the world … the business still has a lot of opportunities.”