By Gerry Barker
MIAMI BEACH_The bold banners hanging at the Miami Beach Convention Center said it all:
"Welcome Back to the Ship."
The 2022 edition of Seatrade Cruise Global, held April 25-28, welcomed almost 9,000 participants from all parts of the globe, a four-fold increase from the same event last year, an indication of the optimism that cruising is coming back from the pandemic stronger than ever.
Over four days of panel discussions, major announcements, receptions and presentations, the dominant overall theme was "resilience" and "sustainability."
Those themes were echoed in Tuesday morning's keynote address, "The State of the Global Industry: Resiliency and the Restart," featuring Kelly Craighead, President & CEO, Cruise Lines International Association, Arnold Donald, President & CEO, Carnival Corporation, Jason Liberty, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean Group and Pierfrancesco Vago, Executive Chairman, Cruise Division, MSC Group. Moderating the panel was the the BBC’s Lucy Hockings.
Throughout the discussion, panelists cited facts and figures supporting how cruising is roaring back, including:
-- By the end of July, 95 percent of cruise ships will be back in operation.
-- By 2023, passenger levels will return to 2019 levels.
-- The percentage of people who have never cruised but would consider it is 69 percent, actually higher than in 2019.
-- Cruise travel demand is projected to exceed supply in 2025.
Reducing the environmental impact and promoting sustainability was also a high priority touted by the cruise executives, citing an industry goal of zero carbon emissions by 2050. To that end, more LNG (Liquified Natural Gas)-powered ships are coming online. Cruise lines are also reducing emissions in ports by increasingly utilizing shoreside power where available.
To be sure, many challenges remain as the industry continues to recover, but with technology and innovation leading the way, panelists were confident cruises offer the best value for consumers. As Ms.
Craighead noted, "It's the best way to see the world."
Another news item that emerged from the keynote: Carnival's Arnold Donald will take on a new role. He will become the company's Vice-Chair and member of the Board of Directors while their current COO, Josh Weinstein, takes over as President and CEO in August.
In other Seatrade news, a new event was also announced: F&B@Sea, which will happen concurrently over two days at Seatrade Cruise Global 2023. It will debut May 2-3, 2023. Focused on food and beverage trends, it will take place near the convention center at 1111 Lincoln Road.
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