Hosted in Mérida, Mexico, Oct. 23-27, the event will assist recovery by helping to return cruise tourism and its economic benefits that are vital for many destinations to rebuild and rebound. Conference proceeds are going to support relief efforts, and best practices for crisis management will be a key topic.
Perhaps most important, according to the FCCA, the gathering will bring together people from across the region to battle through the adversities together.
FCCA president Michele Paige has called the human suffering caused by the hurricanes and earthquakes 'unbearable.' But the association, its member lines and Platinum Members have stepped up to help with a wide range of relief efforts.
The conference and trade show will also be a huge opportunity for Mexico and particularly for Yucatán state, in its first time hosting this annual event. Some 100 cruise line executives and about 1,000 attendees overall are expected.
'The central government and state governments are embracing it. We anticipate it will be very well-attended by Mexico,' Paige said. She pointed out this is the last year the event will be held in a different destination; for the next three years, Puerto Rico is scheduled to host.
Mexico Tourism Secretary Enrique de la Madrid Cordero will welcome delegates on behalf of President Enrique Peña Nieto at the conference opening session, where Yucatán Gov. Rolando Zapata Bello will also speak. Guerrero Gov. Héctor Astudillo Flores will address attendees at a brunch his state is sponsoring preceding the CEO/Presidents and Ministers Meeting.
Mexico hosts at a time when US travel advisories warn about destinations around the country, including some frequented by cruise ships.
'It's really important we're always in dialogue with the federal authorities as well as state authorities so the affected areas are doing all they can to ensure a safe and secure environment and be sure we are alerted if there are any problems,' Paige said.
'It's all about communication,' added FCCA's Adam Ceserano, SVP operations. 'In the overall history of Mexico, it's been very safe.'
Highlights of the event include FCCA chairman Adam Goldstein's welcome at the conference opening ceremony and Holland America Line president Orlando Ashford's keynote address.
The CEO and Presidents Round Table will feature Ashford and Goldstein, president and COO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., along with Micky Arison, chairman, Carnival Corp. & plc; Frank Del Rio, president and CEO, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; Arnold Donald, president and CEO, Carnival Corp. & plc; and Rick Sasso, chairman, MSC Cruises USA.
Workshops will focus on key topics including the destination experience, cruise line purchasing and crisis management.
'Creating the Ultimate Destination Experience' will be moderated by Arnaldo Zanonado, senior manager, Port Adventures, Disney Cruise Line, and FCCA Shore Excursion Committee chairman. Panelists will include Albino Di Lorenzo, VP cruise operations, MSC Cruises USA; Federico Gonzalez-Denton, associate VP, government relations, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.; and Erika Tache, director, product development – tour operations, Carnival Cruise Line.
'Purchasing Practices for the Cruise Industry' will be moderated by Mike Jones, SVP supply chain, travel port services and workplace solutions, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and FCCA Purchasing Committee chairman. Panelists include Paolo Raia, VP food & beverage, Carnival Corp. & plc; Colista James, senior director, food & beverage supply chain management and brand protection, NCLH; and John Helverson, manager, international sales, Gordon Food Service.
The event and workshops also continue the FCCA and member lines’ efforts to assist destinations after the hurricanes, including the association's commitment to provide sleeping pods, multi-thousand-square-foot semi-permanent structures for housing and schooling and life-sustaining supplies to affected destinations at a value of $780,000.
The CEO/Presidents and Ministers Meeting will focus on best practices for crisis management. Plus, a dedicated workshop will provide an all-encompassing plan from preparation to proactive reaction, including housing and relief, evacuations, public relations and communications with partners. Moderated by Michele Paige, the panel is expected to include Russell Daya, executive director, global port operations & development, Disney Cruise Line; Steve Moeller, VP commercial development, NCLH; and St. Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, chairman of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States.