The Canada/New England region is bullish on its 10-year plan, which calls for becoming a year-round destination for cruise calls, representatives from the regional alliance said at the 19th annual Cruise Canada New England Symposium, taking place this week in Montreal.
"Over the next 10 years, the organization will be working to enhance and market the region both domestically and internationally, making the region a leading year-round destination," the alliance said in prepared remarks.
The new 10-year plan is based on input received at the 2016 Symposium which was held in Manhattan, according to Michael Vanderbeeke, deputy port director, business development, Massport (Flynn Cruiseport Boston).
"When it comes to cruise (the region) collaborates very closely," Vanderbeeke said. "By 2026, the region will be a premiere year-round destination ... with more than 1 million cruise visitors each year. Canada/New England will be a four-season cruise destination. We want to be open for cruise business year round."
Attracting more ships may come down to guests recommending the region, according to one major cruise line.
"For the cruise lines in the Holland America Group, we are moving to a new KPI which is the net promoter score which measures the willingness of customers to recommend our product. It's essentially a gauge of customer satisfaction and loyalty," said Timothy Littley, director of itinerary planning, Seabourn.
That big goal is based on customer satisfaction and superior hospitality, according to Vanderbeeke, including building up efforts to attract Chinese and Australian cruise passengers. The region will undertake a benchmarking study and survey when it comes to customer satisfaction.
"Because we have four distinct seasons, there are four distinct opportunities to showcase our region and create authentic local experiences that are different at different times of the year," he noted. "Consumer demand will help fill ships."
"When you talk about the cruise industry it's really not generic. Each cruise line is always trying to differentiate itself and make the destination better for their guests. I think in doing a satisfaction survey, we have to identify the clientele. You really have to know the customers and that is when the ground operators and port agents come in. They understand the products and can differentiate for our products," said John Stoll, vice president of land programs, Crystal Cruises.
The Cruise Canada New England alliance consists of five cruise partners including NYCruise, Massport (Flynn Cruiseport Boston), Cruise Maine USA, Cruise Atlantic Canada and Cruise the Saint Lawrence, which together represent some 100-plus ports of call.
And there is plenty to be bullish about, with a record industry-wide orderbook and a stable offering for cruise passengers. Last year, the region reported 1,322 ship calls at its member ports, adding up to 2.4 million guest visits. Twenty-one cruise lines sailed in the region.
"What makes the difference in this region? It goes without saying you need great or authentic experiences. One of the common themes that can really make the difference is the people and the welcome. The welcome we get (in Canada/New England) is one of the best in the world," commented Steven Young, director of port services, Carnival UK.