Seatrade Panel Talks Optimism, Draws Controversy

Cruise executives discuss the ups and downs of the industry.

Seatrade's State of the Industry panel // (c) 2010

Seatrade's State of the Industry panel (left to right): Richard Sasso (MSC Cruises), Daniel Hanrahan (Celebrity Cruises), Stein Kruse (Holland America Line), Kevin Sheehan (Norwegian Cruise Line), Adam Goldstein (Royal Caribbean International) and Gerry Cahill (Carnival Cruise Lines)

Top executives from some of the world’s largest cruise lines participated in the state of the industry panel at this year’s Seatrade Cruise Shipping Miami Conference and Exhibition.

Panelists included Richard Sasso, chairman of Cruise Line International Association and CEO of MSC cruises; Daniel Hanrahan, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises; Stein Kruse president and CEO of Holland America Line; Kevin Sheehan, president and CEO of Norweigen Cruise Line; Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International; and Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines.

The message from this year’s panel was cautious optimism. Cruise executives proclaimed that an economic recovery was under way, but they also cautioned that it would take time and was not guaranteed to last. While noting that the economy was not yet out of the woods, executives did say that pricing and yields were up so far this year.

“Last year, we were wondering how to fill our ships, but business came back robustly in the fall, and I expect we will see strong growth this year,” Cahill said.

Front and center at the discussion, however, was Alaska governor Steve Parnell. In another session, Parnell faced significant criticism over Alaska’s controversial ballot initiative that was voted into law in 2006 and resulted in a host of new taxes and regulations being imposed on the cruise industry.