Tuesday, March 14, 2023 - 16:17 by ce-press
I wasn’t the only one to remark on the extra level of energy that seemed to be emanating from Cruise Europe members, cruiseline executives and the press as they gathered in Lisbon for the Cruise Europe Conference 2023.
Covid-19 may have had a devastating effect on the industry but the desire for collaboration and the focus on sustainability, in all its forms, has been raised several notches.
In his opening words, Antonio Caracol, member of the Board Port of Lisbon Authority, which hosted the event, said: “Today sustainability is a key point. We must find the balance between environmental, social and economic development based on a transparent and clearly continuous process that reduces the negative externalities but adds value to people, local communities and to the country, helping to build the present and the future.”
Indeed, sustainability is the dominant question at the captain’s chat on board TUI ships according to Marcus Puttich, senior head of port management & operations, and Marie Blitza, director port operations Carnival Maritime, who noted that “it is becoming more and more important for younger guests of AIDA Cruises”.
Sustainability was a theme that ran throughout a day which began on an uplifting note when Chris Allen, vp deployment and itinerary planning Royal Caribbean Group, commented that, after three years of difficulty and 2022 not panning out as well as was originally hoped due to geopolitical and post pandemic issues, there is better news: “Today we are back. In a recent earnings call, business has returned to normal. We have had record booking weeks. European bookings are at historic levels this year.”
Despite this welcome news, it must be noted that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has had a negative effect on a number of Baltic ports, particularly in the east. However cruiseline executive were keen to highlight that there is now an opportunity to remarket the region without St Petersburg as the big hitter.
Susanna Capaccio, manager destination experiences Silversea Cruises, said: “There are great places to see without St Petersburg”. Whilst Gina Dunnett, director land product development Azamara, advised: “We need help with marketing material and images. We need to deliver a story, to get people excited about the Baltic. We need help with the selling part.”
Allen agreed but said it would take time for consumers to understand just what is on offer: “We need to work collectively to get the message out.” And perhaps also just as we were all a little nervous of travelling as the pandemic receded, those fearful of crossing the pond will over time see that the Baltic is still a safe place to travel.
The desire to work together, whether from the lines or the destinations, kept on bubbling to the surface in all areas including sustainability.
Allen commented: “We need to champion communities and the environment, partnering locally with not only the supply chain, but tours also. And on health, safety and security, moreso than ever post-Covid. We all need to work together. There is no one size fits all on sustainability.”