Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) threw itself a
mega 30th birthday party with a conference of 1,600 agents,
suppliers and media taking part in the celebration. The sold-out
event, dubbed “cruise3sixty,” took place at the Greater Fort
Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center in Florida, from Sept.
30 to Oct. 2.
The “first-ever global cruise event” was a success, based on the
enthusiastic response from travel agent attendees.
“It is clear travel agents have a high regard for CLIA’s
programs and services and cruise3sixty presents a great opportunity
to join industry stakeholders to celebrate three decades of
partnership,” said CLIA president and CEO, Terry Dale.
Agents had the opportunity to earn up to 115 CLIA Cruise
Counselor credits and attend 13 training seminars at the event. The
seminars included Effective Presentation Skills, Principles of
Professional Selling, Direct Mail that Sells, Psychology of Selling
and Creating a Cruise Marketing Plan. Attendees could also visit an
exhibition of more than 200 leading travel destinations, suppliers
and providers; tour ships in Port Everglades and Port of Miami; and
watch an entertaining Geography Bowl hosted by TravelAge West’s own
Dr. Marc Mancini. Featured speakers included Nancy Novogrod,
editor-in-chief of Travel + Leisure, who spoke on the topic of “How
Cruisers Spend Information to Increase Your Sales.” Rod McLeod
moderated a panel on the outlook for cruising that included
Carnival’s Bob Dickinson; Royal Caribbean Cruise Line’s Adam
Goldstein; Radisson’s Mark Conroy; MSC’s Rick Sasso; Dick Knodt,
Vacation.com; and Audrey Hendley, American Express Travel Related
One of the highlights of the event was Terry Dale’s interview of
some of the industry’s top visionaries: Micky Arison, president and
CEO of Carnival Corp and PLC; Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd., and Colin Veitch, president and CEO
of Norwegian Cruise Line Group. Florida governor Jeb Bush also
addressed the group, noting with gratitude the $457 billion impact
cruising has had on his state. Fifty-eight percent of CLIA’s
cruises leave from Florida ports.
Arison told the group the best feedback his company receives is
from agents, and that business is “pretty much back to pre-Sept.
11” numbers. He also announced the previously ordered 112,000-ton
cruise ship to be built by Italian shipbuilder Fincantieri will be
used in Carnival’s North American market. Expected to enter service
in spring 2008 the ship will have the largest spa and children’s
facilities in the Carnival fleet.
Fain talked about innovations on cruise ships and “new ways to
entertain” guests, pointing to a new surfing attraction entailing
500,000 tons of water on the top deck of the line’s newest vessel,
Freedom of the Seas (set to debut in 2006).
“We’re continually trying to get better on new as well as older
vessels,” said Fain.“No one buys a cruise based on a 20-second TV
or print ad.”
That may bring them in, he said, but the travel agents’
knowledge and expertise is what sells.
Veitch pointed out that NCL’s positioning of ships has brought
out first-time cruisers from Hawaii as well as the New York City
area. As for NCL America, the line’s American-flagged brand in
Hawaii: “Big picture, it is going well,” said Veitch. He added that
although there were some hiccups, the product is highly appreciated
by the public.
Another cruise3sixty panel featured travel agents and public
relations professionals, including Bruce Good of Seabourn Cruise
Line, Mimi Weisband of Crystal Cruises, Erik Elvejord of Holland
America Line and Christine Fischer of ICCL. The panel focused on
crisis management, all agreeing travel agents are the first line of
information for the public. The panel provided agents with an idea
of how to publicize themselves in the media and offered tools and
strategies for serving as the “middle man” in dealing with
Travel agent attendees, such as Caroline Washington of Ships and
Trips Travel in Sacramento, Calif., came away impressed.
“I really liked the show and I didn’t know what to expect. I
loved the Visionaries Lunch, because I always love to hear what the
top executives have to say. The seminars were very good and I love
being able to take CCI-accepted courses at a trade show,” she
An evening out on Fort Lauderdale’s famed Las Olas Boulevard,
with dining costs paid for by American Express, and a Hall of Fame
Gala Dinner rounded out the events.