The 27th CEC took place in St Petersburg in April
The stunning city of St Petersburg played host to this year’s Cruise Europe conference (CEC) April 24 to 26 which was attended by 160 international guests from the lines, the press and CE members.
Conference moderator Nigel Lingard kept the packed conference day on track, ensuring that delegates could also maximise networking opportunities, of which there were many throughout the event.
Deployment and itinerary planning in Northern Europe was the first topic to be discussed with Chris Allen of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd (RCCL), Craig Milan of Virgin Voyages
and Chris Coates of Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) making up the panel.
Miguel Reyna of RCCL then discussed port infrastructure and the impact of new Baltic environment regulations. How CE ports can help small to medium ships differentiate their itineraries followed with Nicolai Skogland of Viking Ocean Cruises, Justin Poulsen of Silversea Cruises, James Cabello of Mystic Cruises and Chris Coates of CMV leading the session.
Crystal Morgan of Princess Cruises and Lotfi Trabelsi of RCCL were well-placed to share their thoughts on shoreside experience. This was followed by a presentation of the Cruise Europe survey by Dr Thanos Pallis, the findings of which will be available later this year. Last but by no means least was Ukko Metsola of RCCL who gave an insightful and fascinating talk on the topic of cruise industry challenges: a geopolitical perspective.
Well-catered for in the Corinthia Hotel on Nevsky Prospekt, attendees were given the opportunity to view a city that is the must-see port on any Baltic itinerary. From Catherine’s Palace designed by Rastrelli in 1752 for Empress Elizabeth to the Faberge Museum opened in 2013 which includes collector Vekselberg’s nine Imperial Easter eggs (of the 50 remaining today), from the Hermitage Museum (Winter Palace) to the Church of Our Savior on Spilled Blood built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated in 1881 and all the palaces and places in between, this city founded by Peter the Great in 1703 deserves at least the three days on the visa-waiver programme (see below) for passengers to do it justice.
Dinners hosted in the Vodka Museum and the Russian Museum of Ethnography, a private concert in the Hermitage Museum and an informal dinner at one of the three Passenger Port St Petersburg Marine Facade cruise terminals provided insight into not only the tourist attractions available but also the cruiseship facilities. If the organisation of this event was anything to go by cruiselines, passengers and crew are not going to be disappointed when visiting this magnificent city steeped in history and much of which has been beautifully restored.