'We want to be open for cruise business year-round,' Michael Vanderbeek, deputy director, Massport, said on behalf of the Cruise Canada/New England Alliance. Partners are Cruise the Saint Lawrence, Cruise Atlantic Canada, CruiseMaineUSA, Flynn Cruiseport Boston and NYCruise, collectively representing more than 100 ports, large, medium and small.
'We're making guest satisfaction the core of our mission,' Vanderbeek added. 'Our focus is superior hospitality, unique activities, diverse destinations and authentic local experiences.'
This is just part of the ambitious strategic vision revealed today by the Alliance during its annual symposium hosted this week in Montréal.
Furthermore, Canada/New England wants to consistently rank among the world's top cruise destinations for visitor satisfaction.
It's a bold vision for a region that's currently known in the cruise world mainly for fall foliage and represents just a single-digit sliver of cruise capacity. But over years the Alliance members have worked hard to stretch the season and attract new lines.
Their efforts—including a whopping $656m in infrastructure investments, such as the Port of Montréal's cruise terminal, just modernized to the tune of $78m—are paying off.
Increasingly, ships are visiting during summer and spring. And the variety of cruise operators represented at the symposium this week shows Canada/New England's widening appeal. Among them: Carnival Corp., Carnival UK, Holland America Group, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, MSC Cruises, AIDA Cruises, TUI Cruises, Disney Cruise Line, Crystal Cruises, Seabourn, Saga, Viking Ocean Cruises, Noble Caledonia, Victory Cruise Line and Croisieres M/S Jacques-Cartier. Hurtigruten and Virgin Voyages representatives had registered.
And cruise line executives at the symposium indicated Canada/New England is already well on its way to achieving its goal of being tops in guest satisfaction.
'The welcome we get here is one of the best in the world,' said Steve Young, director of port services and government affairs, Carnival UK.
To achieve its 10-year strategic vision, the Cruise Canada/New England Alliance will target audiences and markets including cruise lines, travel agents, media and consumers. Its primary markets will be the US, Canada and Europe/UK, with China and Australia as secondary markets over a longer timeframe, Vanderbeek said.
Strategic action areas are research and asset development, brand identity, marketing and communication, destination development, partnerships and funding. The region is now using a lighthouse as a logo but probably won't develop a tagline after the majority of symposium attendees indicated a tagline probably isn't necessary.
This year's Cruise Canada/New England Symposium is fully interactive, with moderators engaging the nearly 200 attendees by actively seeking their opinions. The speakers are the audience members—representatives of cruise lines, ports, tourism boards, tour operators, port agencies, government officials and more—all sharing their views and expertise in a fresh format crafted by symposium organizer Cruise the Saint Lawrence.