The cruise industry is experiencing one of the best periods in its history, more "sexy" and "global" than ever, "highly diversified and innovative" and with a record forecast of 30 million passengers by 2019, four executive presidents agreed on Tuesday of the sector.
The data is very revealing: in 2018 there were 28.5 million passengers in the sector, 6.7% more than in 2017, an amount that will be pulverized if the predictions of 30 million cruise passengers for this year are met.
It is not surprising that the mood of the top executives at the annual conference on the global state of the industry reflected this optimism and confidence within the "Seatrade Cruise Global", the largest cruise ship fair in the world.
At the conference, it became clear that the largest cruise companies maintain full confidence in the future of an industry that, according to Kelly Craighead, president of Clia, the entity that groups the main companies in the sector, had an impact in 2018. economic value of about 138,000 million dollars.
A growth challenge to which the cruise-oriented naval industry will respond with the launch this year of 18 new ships and plans for "technological innovation" and "continue to seek and improve in safety and protection of the environment," said Richard Fein, president of Royal Caribbean.
The success of this sector in accelerated and continuous growth is a product, in Fein's opinion, of management teams and personnel "proactive, effective and passionate" with their work, on the one hand; on the other, the "highly diversified industry".
In this context, the essential is not in cosmetic changes in aspects such as the colors and size of the ships, but in "advocating new experiences" to the passengers and taking advantage of the opportunities to "expand" the reach network.
In fact, Royal Caribbean, said Fein, has 800 different destination points for its cruises, because, in the end, "it's about the protagonist being the people, always the people".
Or, said in the words of Arnold Ronald, president and general manager of Carnival Corporation, the ability and talent to "offer, through the best technology, personalized travel experiences" in a "very diversified" industry.
Some technological applications that Carnival uses, for example, to "reduce fuel consumption" and advance the protection of the marine environment.
Thus, one of the core ideas of Carnival is the construction of new ships from the "responsibility", that is, from joining "efficiency" and "technology", and, as for cruisers with more years of navigation, their continuous review for its technological improvement, Ronald added.
Pierfrancesco Vago, president of the cruise company MSC Cruises, which launched a ten-year plan in 2016 that includes investments of 13,600 million euros (15,232 million dollars) in the construction of 17 new ships, emphasized the value of " mouth to mouth "among the cruise passengers and potential passengers of his signature.
Vago was satisfied with the 6.5 million passengers that his cruises attracted in 2017 and especially enthusiastic about the new investments of the company and the future of the sector.
"The cruise industry is doing an incredible job" on all fronts, especially in the "care of a clean marine environment," agreed Vago with Fein.
In this context, Craighead advanced that the objective of the sector is for 2030 to achieve a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.
The Italian executive recalled that the cruise industry is "increasingly a global business" that has an impulse to "explore new destinations such as Antarctica" or deepen those of China and India.
For his part, Frank del Rio, president of Norwegian Cruise Line, ventured that all signs indicate that, while there is a fleet of boats of all sizes, the "trend points to innovation as the boats are going to be larger , because more space is needed. "
He defended the criticism of an industry that "creates millions of jobs around the world" and unveiled the interest of the company that leads through the eastern Mediterranean market, with destinations such as Turkey or the Holy Land.
Miami Beach becomes until next Thursday in the international epicenter of the tourism of cruises with this fair to which concur more than 700 display units coming from more than a hundred of countries.
Emilio J. López