MIAMI BEACH — As the cruise industry expands globally, traditional ports of call in the Caribbean are facing tough comparisons, attendees at the Cruise Shipping Miami conference were told.
“I’m not sure the Caribbean nations recognize the nature of the competition,” Royal Caribbean International President Adam Goldstein told the group during the keynote State of the Industry presentation.
Goldstein pointed to the recently opened $400 million Marina Bay Cruise Terminal in Singapore as an example of how port facilities are improving around the world.
“That’s the competitive set” to which Caribbean countries need to respond, Goldstein told the group.
Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill said Carnival is working on a port-improvement project in Nassau, Bahamas
Talking about developments abroad, Cahill said moving the Carnival Spirit into year-round Australia service last year was a milestone event.
“In our 40-year history, we never homeported a ship and sourced from a foreign market,” he said.
Manfridi Lefebvre d’Ovidio, chairman of Silversea Cruises, said that despite shrinking economies in some European countries, cruise growth is outpacing economic growth there.
And Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, said European cruisers have rebounded from last year’s “annus horribilis” in the Mediterranean.
“We’ve seen already in the new Wave season in 2013 that the first-time passenger is coming back again,” he said.
In North America, Holland America Line is focused on scrubbers and other technological solutions to the sulfur emissions rules that will get more restrictive in 2015, said President Stein Kruse. The company’s extensive Alaska operations would be directly affected.
Celebrity Cruises President Michael Bayley talked about pop-up restaurants as a way for cruise lines to overcome misperceptions about cruise food and spread a positive grassroots marketing message.
Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Kevin Sheehan described New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as “giddy” at the prospect of Norwegian Breakaway’s May debut of year-round cruising from the Big Apple.
Sheehan said the mayor told him, “Kevin, this is a really big deal.” Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.