Wednesday, September 27, 2023 - 09:31 by ce-press
The eastern Baltic has had a tough time since Russia invaded Ukraine but, inevitably, there have been winners elsewhere not least Norway and Iceland. In a session moderated by Luis de Carvalho from Copenhagen Malmo Port/CMP (also managing the port of Visby), delegates heard differing views from Marcus Puttich from TUI Cruises, Martin Lister from Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, Chris Martin from Holland America Line and Louise Rossell from Cruise Baltic.
Martin and Lister suggested that rebranding the region would be helpful for the American market which has struggled to maintain a presence in east. Martin likened the loss of St Petersburg from the Baltic itineraries to that of having a McDonalds without a big Mac and suggested exploring other menu options. “We need to work together to market it differently. I know there are a lot of destinations worth visiting but we have to find a way to get people want to visit. You need to help us.”
In this respect Rossell pointed out that Cruise Baltic is visiting cruiseline sales teams to explain what there is to see as well as hosting them on fam trips. Representing a cruise line that caters primarily for the North American market Chris welcomes this “hands-on” approach as that market can benefit from more education about what to see and do in the region.
Over at TUI the story is different with capacity reaching 106% across the fleet albeit with some itinerary adjustments in the Baltic. Puttich pointed out that methanol-ready Mein Schiff 7 will be sailing out of two German homeports to the Baltic when she comes out in 2024.
All three executives agreed that the best approach from destinations is to ask what the cruiselines require from them and then offer to help achieve that, recognising that one size does not fit all when it comes to all the different brands. Puttich pointed out that it would be helpful for destinations to understand the different perceptions different source markets have of a place to help them in promotion of a destination.
A couple of bright lights are shining on the horizon. Puttich pointed out that post Covid passengers seem to want the more relaxing cruises but he is confident that cultural tours will be back on the agenda before too long. In addition de Carvalho challenged the room to consider all year around cruising in Northern Europe and especially in the Baltic. He mentioned that 15 years ago when the first discussions to implement winter cruising in the Med took place many people were skeptical, but look where they are now.
He added that CMP ports now receive calls every month of the year for the first time ever, and that certain brands are more keen to stay this side of the pond year-round than reposition ships to the Americas.
He also suggested that a helpful exercise for all concerned would be for cruiselines and ports to put themselves in each others’ shoes when planning.