Nine cruise line executives participated in a ‘Future of cruise industry in Europe’ session (Image: Seatrade Europe 2017)
Improving passenger and crew safety, making cruise tourism more sustainable, and reducing the industry’s environmental impact were the top three priorities highlighted by cruise executives during the opening day of Seatrade Europe in Hamburg, Germany on 6 September.
Talking to around 600 delegates as part of the opening Balcony Chat, CLIA Europe chairman and Celestyal Cruises’ CEO Kyriakos Anastassiadis said that the cruise industry has enjoyed a record year in 2017 and must now focus on three shared priorities. They include providing safe working and sailing conditions for crew and passengers, being environmentally responsible, and building a sustainable tourism model by adding value to each destination and working with local communities to grow business.
“As we face increased scrutiny and more questions are asked about how responsible we are, we should be proud of our achievements and better communicate this,” Anastassiadis said. “We are, after all, at the forefront of embracing technologies and regulations.”
Nine executives then participated in a ‘Future of cruise industry in Europe’ session, during which they highlighted their optimism for the future of cruising in Germany and across Europe.
Describing Germany’s current cruise market as ‘healthy’, Karl J. Pojer, CEO of Hapag-Lloyd Cruises and chairman of CLIA Germany, predicted that Germany will hit the three million passenger benchmark by 2020, up from two million in 2016. Pojer expects that Germany’s cruise industry will continue to be driven by innovation, speed and creativity, rather than price-cutting or a unilateral focus on increasing volume.
Backing Pojer, AIDA Cruises’ president Felix Eichhorn highlighted that the German market will continue to need more ship capacity to cater to growing cruise passenger numbers. Fellow panellist and CEO of TUI Cruises Wybcke Meier agreed adding: “More ships will drive the market.”
Meanwhile, both MSC Cruises’ CEO Gianni Onorato and Costa Cruises’ president Neil Palomba identified the Western Mediterranean source markets of Italy, France and Spain as another field of growth, saying they needed more market penetration. Palomba said the three markets were picking up after some relatively difficult years owing to Southern Europe’s 2010 economic crisis, but confirmed the market penetration was still around 1%.
“Cruise lines should not compete against each other, but rather against the land-based tourism," said Palomba.
Following the discussions, delegates were invited to witness a virtual keel-laying ceremony for AIDA Cruises’ AIDAnova, the world’s first fully LNG-powered cruise ship. The vessel is one of seven LNG ships on order for AIDA’s parent company Carnival Corporation.
Speaking at the event, Carnival Corporation’s president and CEO Arnold Donald said: “Today we step into the future – reducing the environmental footprint using LNG – for the seven new ships for four Carnival Corporation’s global brands – Carnival Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises – which will feature a revolutionary green cruising design and will be the first in the cruise industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) – the world’s cleanest burning fossil fuel.”