These are clearly challenging times, but the cruise industry has a lot going for it, including huge market potential on a global scale. Hence, to quote Vicky Garcia of Cruise Planners/American Express, “this is not the time to stick your head in a hole but to get out there and shake hands and kiss babies. This (economic) situation will turn around.”

She was directing her comments at travel agents, but that doesn’t’ mean they don’t apply industry-wide. This is a time to become more aggressive and more creative with sales, marketing and product development. “We must do what we did before and then more,” Richard Meadows, executive vice president at Holland America Line, told us.

It is also worthwhile remembering that the cruise industry has been outperforming all other areas of the leisure industry. On Carnival Corporation’s fourth quarter and year end earnings call, Micky Arison, chairman and CEO, said: “We deliver. We outperform all other areas of the leisure industry. Sometimes you have to look back to have confidence for the future.”

In this issue we cover itinerary planning and have spoken to itinerary planners at all the major cruise lines, as they outline their strategies going forward. Our destination focus is the Caribbean, and we have asked port and tourism officials what they are doing to differentiate themselves and compete not only against other islands but also against other emerging destinations.

Our company profile is Celebrity Cruises, which has literally transformed and invigorated itself fleetwide with the help of the Solstice, which incidentally is a green ship. We have also interviewed the original founder of Celebrity, John Chandris, who shared some of his insight on the brand and the industry, and Royal Caribbean Chairman and CEO Richard Fain and his executive team, about how they have continued to evolve and build up the Celebrity brand.

On the technical side we have talked to Carnival about the Fun-Ship makeover of the Sensation, and to Princess’ Senior Vice President of Interior Design Teresa Anderson and the lead contractor about the revitalization of the Caribbean Princess.

We are also covering unique software solutions, food and beverage, and much more.
Put all this together and you have a vibrant growth-industry with a global reach.

Angela Reale Mathisen & Oivind Mathisen

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2009