Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) first Summit at Sea, a new platform designed to engage with industry colleagues and cruise lines, was very well received by participating industry delegates.
For four days (8th-11th January), 120 participants representing 57 CLIA Executive Partners and 17 cruise lines were immersed in a tailored educational programme, including conference and workshop sessions on many current topics of interest for the industry, including port operations, health, destination development, environment, security, and safety.
Optimism for the cruise industry remains high, with most of the attending delegates anticipating that by 2030 14 million passengers could cruise in Europe every year. This would represent a three and 3.5% penetration rate of the European population and huge opportunity for both Europe and the Mediterranean.
The setting for the Summit at Sea was MSC’s newest cruise ship, MSC Preziosa, which cruised from Barcelona to Civitavecchia. During the sailing, delegates enjoyed networking opportunities at dinners, cocktail receptions, shore excursions and visits to cruise terminal at the ports of call. CLIA Diamond Partners also had the opportunity to attend an exclusive dinner.
Education was a key element of the Summit. The first business session focused on port development and operations with Barcelona, which was described as a ‘model’ port in terms of investment coming from the port, cruise lines and the private sector.
On the second day, delegates heard details of the industry’s partnership with renowned experts, including cutting-edge research that is being undertaken to keep onboard illnesses to a minimum. CLIA SVP for Technical and Regulatory Affairs, Bud Darr, said the work being undertaken with leading researchers is ground-breaking and demonstrates the industry’s leadership in the public health arena.
Delegates also had the chance to hear case studies from the association’s Charity of Choice, Mercy Ships, which operates floating hospitals and provide training for medical professionals along with curative surgical interventions
A business session was also held on safety and security topics. Delegates discussed both the challenges and opportunities around the expansion of the cruise industry with increasing numbers of ships and the complexities surrounding itineraries. Delegates seemed to universally agree that people are the industry’s most important resource – trained, professional crew within all shipboard areas.
Cruise Line Executives also called for the application of rules and regulations to be undertaken in a consistent manner. Discussions on the pending Baltic-specific environmental requirements took place, which remains a serious challenge, but delegates heard that the industry is guardedly optimistic that there is a viable solution through collaborating with governments, ports and NGOs.
The final business session focused on shipbuilding and procurement. Order books at European yards are at an all-time high, and shipyards spoke about the application of new goal based rules, optimising on board space, and the level of required capability and sophistication of software when building new innovative ships.
Growth within the Chinese sector was also discussed, with significant changes taking place with ship design to accommodate the requirements of this particular market.
“This event is part of our on-going enhancements to the CLIA Executive Partner Membership Programme,” stated Pierfrancesco Vago (pictured), MSC Cruises Executive Chairman and CLIA Europe Chairman in his opening remarks before the ship left Barcelona.
“We have created a sensational platform for our industry partners with the Summit at Sea. We plan to repeat this experience again next year on a different cruise ship, continuing to meet our member needs and expectations.”
“We are grateful for the hospitality provided by the MSC teams both ashore and on board, and with the time given by cruise line executives,” said Bo Larsen, VP, Strategic Partnerships, CLIA.
“The Summit at Sea has been very well received and demonstrates the unique benefits that CLIA membership delivers. We will continue to develop and create new opportunities for our membership community so, as an industry, we continue to grow.”