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 industry.

“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 love.

“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 decades.

“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.”

Comments

From Our Partners

Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Crystal Cruises – What’s Next, 2020 & the 30th Anniversary Collection
Watch Now
HAL_AlaskaCruising_Hero
Capitalizing on a Peak Year for Alaska Cruising
Read More
2020 Elite Island Webinar
More Family Fun in St. Lucia @ St. James’s Club Morgan Bay
Register Now

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI