After two days of high level and informative discussions, the 3rd Seatrade Winter Cruising Forum came to a close in Cartagena, Spain, last week. Almost 250 delegates from across Europe attended the conference at El Batel Auditorium and Conference Centre, hearing from senior cruise line executives and key industry peers on the future of seasonal cruising in both the Mediterranean, and beyond.
With the barriers of year-round cruising in the Mediterranean decreasing and more and more larger ships venturing into the region there are calls for the industry to engage in a new reality of year-round cruising in the Med; Kerry Anastassiadis, ceo of Louis Cruises stated the ‘cruise industry needs to change its own perception and stop referring to “winter cruising’’.’ Anastassiadis’ belief that ‘blaming seasonality strictly on the weather is deceiving’ was echoed by Giora Israel, svp global ports & destination development, Carnival Corporation, adding that ‘speaking of “winter cruises” only works against growth’.
Israel further went on to establish ‘that there is an urging from more experienced cruisers for new itineraries, congestion is a problem in key ports in peak periods, vacation habits are changing in Europe and airlift becoming more affordable’, telling delegates that all the aforementioned factors ‘support the growth of year-round cruising’.
Moving further afield, destinations can look at the success stories, such as Norway, which initially marketed itself as a destination suitable for winter cruising back in 2008, and has gone from strength to strength – using its selling points in its marketing material. Other destinations should follow suit, by initially ‘extending’ their cruise seasons at both ends, and then moving on to a full calendar year when the time is right. This can be complemented by showing cruise lines the plethora of tourist attractions available for passengers throughout the year, and encourage the cruise lines to consider their destinations for year-round deployment in the future.
Ultimately, the concluding point of the forum is that the future of year-round deployment in the Mediterranean region and beyond is set to grow in success. However, both good communication and cooperation between ports and achieving the right ‘marketing message’ for the cruise lines and passengers alike are vital in ensuring this success of year-round deployment is continued.