VANCOUVER — A panel of four cruise
executives told attendees at CLIA’s Cruise360 conference that cruise lines and
their customers need travel agents more than some other travel suppliers do.
An audience question about some hotel chains bypassing
travel agents prompted several on the panel to weigh in. Christine Duffy,
president of Carnival Cruise Line, said hotels have business travel, meetings,
catering and other revenue sources that cruise lines don’t have.
“I think hotels are
struggling with how do they work with travel agents on the leisure side of the
business, even if they feel they don’t need them as much for the other
segments,” Duffy said.
Adam Goldstein, president and chief operating officer of
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., said hotel booking volumes dwarf the cruise
“There’s more at stake with us,” Goldstein said.
“There’s more at stake for the customer in their choice of a cruise. And
that’s where they need travel professionals to help them make that choice.
Because their choice of a cruise is going to influence the central memories of
their lives. Only rarely would a hotel fall into the same category of
importance, risk or uncertainty.”
Several executives also talked about private islands.
Norwegian Cruise Line president Andy Stuart said the islands don’t get enough
“I think we’re so used to having private islands that we
forget how sexy it is. It’s a private island, nobody lives there, it’s a
beautiful destination in the middle of nowhere, and we’re sort of blasé. It’s a
big deal. Who gets to go to an island where nobody lives there?
“As a group, we could make more of it,” Stuart said.
Rick Sasso, president of MSC Cruises USA, said private
islands are one way of freshening a Caribbean experience that’s been around for
“Our industry needs to keep reinventing,” said Sasso,
whose company is building private islands in Bimini and the Persian Gulf. He said some guests have
been on 20 or more cruises. “That dynamic requires us to be evolving.”