The conference took the theme of 'cruise heroes' in recognition of agents' work across the sector, and was attended by over 750 delegates. 65% of delegates attended for the first time, while around a quarter had not been on a cruise ship previously.
Barbara Muckermann, president and CEO, Silversea Cruises, delivered the keynote speech focussing on luxury cruising. According to CLIA’s State of the Cruise Industry 2023 report, the industry is seeing higher interest than before the pandemic and capacity is forecast to grow by +19% between 2022 and 2028. With this in mind, key takeaways included drivers behind luxury cruise travel, the potential for the industry to grow its share of the luxury space, and the importance of an experience-led approach to marketing and sales to this audience, while also highlighting the overuse of the word ‘luxury.’
Muckermann, who described Silversea as ‘like a luxury base camp taking you to the world’s best places,’ said, ‘The luxury cruising market is around $2bn a year, but the luxury travel sector as a whole is $170bn a year, so there is a huge opportunity for the cruise sector in this untapped market.’
Ship visits to MSC Cruises’ MSC Virtuosa, Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines’ Balmoral, Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas, Celebrity Cruises’ Celebrity Silhouette and P&O Cruises' Arvia were included in the programme. Presentations, panel discussions, a trade fair and a dinner were also held.
Noted Andy Harmer, CLIA MD for UK & Ireland, ‘This was our largest ever CLIA Conference, and I'm thrilled to say it proved a huge success, with great initial feedback from agents and the wider industry. The trade are all “cruise heroes,” and with so many new delegates joining us, it’s clear more agents than ever before can see the opportunities and advantages of cruise.’
Ship tours for agents
As part of the campaign, regional ship visits for agents across the UK and Ireland arranged in partnership with various cruise lines will take place in August, involving: Seaborun’s Seabourn Quest on August 1 in Dover, Norwegian Cruise Line’s Norwegian Dawn on August 4 in Newcastle, Holland America Line’s Zuiderdam on August 11 in Belfast, Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity on August 22 in Southampton and Oceania’s Oceania Vista on August 25 in Liverpool.
They will each include updates from industry leaders, as well as a tour and complimentary lunch.
Harmer said, ‘We're so excited to announce our superhero-charged programme of events, with the widest ever choice of ship visit openings, domestic and overseas events, and virtual training opportunities.’
He added, ‘This approach recognises people like to learn, engage and network in different ways. It also recognises agents have a range of requirements, from focussing on certain sectors such as expedition and river cruise, to those who want to explore ships, to those who want to be inspired by experts, to those who have just started their cruise selling journey.
‘We are encouraging all agents to take advantage of this wealth of opportunities, as cruise continues to go from strength-to-strength.’
CLIA Cruise Week, RiverView and more
A ‘CLIA Destination Residential’ will be held in Porto, Portugal this autumn, in collaboration with Visit Porto & the North. All delegates will be hosted on board Norwegian Prima as part of the event, with additional ship visit options to include Seabourn Ovation and a number of river cruise ships. A series of sessions with destination experts will be held, as well as the opportunity to join local tours and excursions in Porto itself.
Specialist cruise webinars – covering Europe and worldwide river cruise, plus ultra-luxury, expedition and yacht and sail – have been arranged for agents looking to boost their knowledge in these areas. The webinars will take place in June, September and October, with agents able to secure their place soon via the CLIA website.
The annual CLIA Cruise Week will be held from September 18-24, which will see agent-friendly initiatives and updates made available.
Next year’s RiverView river cruise conference will take place in Amsterdam, with dates TBC; this year’s river cruise residential is on September 28-29, with the venue TBC.
Two new expedition dinners will be held in London and Manchester on October 16 and 18, respectively, and feature presentations from experts in the sector.