by Theresa Norton
on April 19, 2023 Last updated: 4:35 PM ET, Wed April 19, 2023
The Presidents Panel at CLIA’s Cruise360 (Photo Credit: Theresa Norton)The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) kicked off the opening session of Cruise360 on Wednesday, April 19 with an optimistic outlook for 2023 and beyond.“Cruise is back, and we’re absolutely sailing toward a brighter future,” Kelly Craighead, CLIA president and CEO, said in her keynote speech.
Craighead said the organization predicts 31.5 million people will take a cruise this year, exceeding the 29.7 million in 2019, the boom pre-pandemic year.The number of cruisers will grow every year and reach nearly 40 million in 2027, over 30 percent more than in 2019, she said.
Cruise360, a conference and trade show for travel advisors, is taking place at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center through Sunday, April 23. While the first general session took place on Wednesday, some advisors participated in pre-conference certificate programs on Tuesday.Craighead said 85 percent of those who have cruised in the past intend to cruise again – and 88 percent of those are Millennials, a figure higher than Gen Xers (86 percent) and even Baby Boomers (82 percent). The average age of a cruise tourist is now 46.5 years old, according to CLIA’s 2023 State of the Cruise Industry report.
Cruise ships docked in Port Everglades. (photo courtesy of Broward County’s Port Everglades) (Broward County’s Port Everglades)The CLIA executive also noted that the industry is welcoming more expedition, river, and yacht ships. “Those used to be considered niche,” she said. “Not anymore. These products are hot, hot, hot.”She also emphasized the industry’s commitment to sustainability, noting the investment in new ships with cleaner fuel sources and waste management. The State of the Cruise Industry report notes that some ships repurpose 100 percent of waste and that 38 ships will be powered by liquified natural gas by 2028, a fuel said to be more environmentally friendly.
Also, 100 percent of new ships will have advanced wastewater treatment systemsCraighead’s keynote speech was followed by the Presidents Panel, which featured Michael Bayley, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International; Carol Cabezas, president of Azamara; Ruben Rodriguez, president of MSC Cruises USA; David J. Herrera, president of Norwegian Cruise Line; and Nirmal Saverimuttu, president of Virgin VoyagesThey all noted the phenomenon of post-pandemic “revenge travel” and touted the new ships, features and agent programs they are introducing. Above all, they thanked travel advisors for sticking with them during the pandemic standstill and for ensuring their successful return to record-setting operations.For the latest travel news, updates and deals, subscribe to the daily TravelPulse newsletter.
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