Seatrade Cruise Global: hot topics from day three

ICFR’s executive editor Jon Ingleton was at Seatrade Cruise Global in Miami, Florida from 7-11 April 2019. Here, he shares the best bits from the third day of the biggest cruise industry event of the year

Seatrade Cruise Global: hot topics from day three
Carnival Cruise Line’s press conference inlcuded a game show that tested how much the journalists had been paying attention to the Mardi Gras briefing
Tuesday 9 April

Under Captain John Murray’s determined leadership, Port Canaveral has become a recognised leader in LNG port operations. While interviewing Murray for a future story in ICFR at Seatrade Cruise Global (SCG), it was apparent that the port’s journey to become North America’s first LNG cruise port has been a complicated one, requiring steely determination to reach a rewarding conclusion. The port’s recent renovations have come at a cost of US$237 million, and with a new US$150 million cruise terminal for Carnival’s Mardi Gras underway, Canaveral is in an enviable position to support good growth in the coming years.

The stage was set for the eagerly awaited State of the Industry debate. The highlight came from Norwegian Cruise Lines Holdings’ president and CEO Frank Del Rio as he asked the BBC host to flip from the negative questions and seek a more positive dialogue. The cruise industry is not unique in having to grapple with challenges – every industry does. But Del Rio was right, we need our flagship event to reflect the true state of the business – thriving, diverse and youthful.

SCG’s exhibition also gave Galataport Istanbul the perfect platform to proclaim that Turkey is happily back on the cruise map. From March 2020, the port’s new underground cruise facility will make a massive contribution to the restoration of Istanbul’s strategic role in rebuilding the region’s cruise business. For too many years the industry has missed a prosperous Istanbul, but with 50 calls already scheduled for 2020, optimism, passion and hard work have prevailed and the smiles are back.

Seabourn’s senior director Timothy Littley has organised the Planners Lunch for over a dozen years now and it’s one of the immovable appointments in my SCG schedule. With the show’s return to Miami Beach, tradition was restored by a welcome return to the Botanical Garden. Networking with friends and colleagues is the only goal as official business takes a welcome pause. Thank you to the Port of Hamburg for its generous sponsorship this year. I had been resigned to missing the Carnival Cruise Line’s press conference but thankfully it was a long session featuring a game show that was organised to test how much the journalists had been paying attention to the Mardi Gras briefing. President Christine Duffy’s enthusiastic captaincy triumphed, just. The pride that the company has in the new premium Carnival Excel suites was an easy takeaway and I look forward to seeing them realised.

The Seabourn press conference was a timely research mission for the following day’s breakfast meeting with renowned designer Adam D. Tihany. The luxury cruise company took this opportunity to reveal Tihany’s timeless designs for its newest expedition ships, which will enable passengers to “rough it in style.” The Expedition Lounge is exquisite. The brand’s president, Rick Meadows, was evidently proud of his latest newbuilding as he commented on the “extraordinary adventures” that his guests will have on Seabourn Venture.

Josh Leibowitz, Carnival Corporation’s chief strategy officer and Cunard’s senior vice president, then provided a full round-up of Cunard’s news before handing the microphone over to Ponant. The latter’s Navin Sawhney and his team celebrated Le Bougainville’s entry into the fleet as she departed from Sovik, Norway in preparation for her maiden cruise from Malaga, Spain on 15 April. Le Bougainville is the third in the Ponant Explorers series but the first to feature the much-reported Blue Eye lounge. Sawhney is convinced she will “enrich your mind and inspire your soul” and with her sleek lines and smart interiors the audience was easily sold on his claim.

Good news was also reported at the MedCruise as the association shared its report on the trends in the Mediterranean and its adjoining seas. According to statistics, the region experienced an 8.2% increase to 28 million passenger movements in 2018, and supported by Turkey’s revival, further growth is likely to be reported again next year and beyond.

Windstar Cruises’ president John Delaney closed the working day with an update on the line’s US$250 million Star Plus Initiative, which involves lengthening and renovating Star Breeze, Star Legend and Star Pride. EXP360 technology provided 360-degree views of renderings created by Ray Chung from The Johnson Studio. Steel was cut on the building of the first section insert last week and work on the first ship will begin in October this year.

Joe Stone’s must have missed Carnival’s press dinner over the last few years – like the Planners Lunch, Miami Beach is a traditional home for this SCG staple. Every table is hosted by members of the Carnival leadership team and thanks to Duffy and Keith Taylor this was another memorable evening for our table with the perfect mixture of entertainment and education.

Read ICFR's highlights from the first, second, fourth and fifth days of SCG.

Jon Ingleton
By Jon Ingleton
17 April 2019