International Cruise Summit
The summit was organised as a hybrid event with in-person attendance and an online platform
Multiple cruise lines shared strategies for overcoming the challenges caused by Covid-19 and safely resuming operations during the 10th edition of the International Cruise Summit in Madrid, Spain last week.
The summit was organised as a hybrid event consisting of both an online platform and in-person participation in the auditorium of the Hotel Meliá Castilla, where around 100 attendees gathered. A further 600 participants followed the event around the world, setting a new attendance record.
Among the speakers at the event were CEOs, presidents and senior executives of cruise companies, scientists related to the development of Covid-19 vaccines and other industry leaders.
Gordon Dougan, a specialist in vaccine development from the University of Cambridge, discussed the guidelines published by the European Union and how the deadlines for a Covid-19 vaccine has been shortened using new technology. Cruise lines expressed hoped that they would be able to resume voyages at least partially in 2021 with the start of a vaccination roll-out programme, though executives agreed that operations will not return to complete normality until 2022. In addition, cruise lines anticipated a greater diversity in destinations, as many popular ports will not be able to accommodate several ships on the same day.
“We must remember that we are one industry,” said Michael Thamm, CEO of Costa Group. “There were ships that were turned away by ports because they had a sick passenger onboard, not even from Covid-19, but from fear and anxiety. We have lived through moments where there was no humanity, and our industry must have it.”
On the second day, the focus turned to the small expedition ship sector, highlighting newbuilds for Havila Voyages and Swan Hellenic. Tour operators and ports also contributed, emphasising that shore excursions will now prioritise safety and guides who are able to maintain protocols.
The last panel of the event analysed the different strategies that cruise lines will adopt to attract passengers once activity resumes. The panel suggested that support from travel agencies will be key to their return, as well as communication and advertising campaigns. Cruise line managers explained that they will start up cruises as demand increases in order to maintain attractive prices, which will also revert to benefits for travel agents through profitable commissions.
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