“The question is what lays ahead,” said Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line, noting that Canada/New England deployment for Holland America is up around 25 percent this year, and will take a major leap in 2013 with a ship in the region for the entire summer, joined by another for part of the summer, in addition to more tonnage during the fall shoulder season.
“We are now finished with 2013 deployment,” he continued, “we are almost finished with the summer in 2014, so we are less than a year away at looking at 2015. What happens then is an interesting question.”
Kruse, is of course, referring to the looming North American Emissions Control Area that will require .1 percent sulfur emissions starting in 2015.
Referring to the region, Kruse said that Canada/New England was a “cost acceptable area.”
He compared the Canada/New England market to Alaska, that being, a five-month market, with potential to become a six-month market.
Speaking at the 2012 Cruise Canada New England Symposium, Chris Allen, director of deployment and itinerary planning for Royal Caribbean Cruises, said the region was “easy to do business in.”
For 2012, Royal Caribbean International will sail one new round-trip voyage from Quebec City on the Brilliance of the Seas, calling at Saint Lawrence ports. However, that itinerary will not be repeated in 2013
“Deployment and itinerary planning is done from a global perspective,” said Allen. “When we’re planning Canada/New England, we’re not just looking at individual ports of calls, but other regions, such as China, Europe and the Caribbean.”
Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will call at 14 different Canada/New England ports in 2012, totaling 125 calls.
Chris Martin, director of port operations for Holland America, said there needed to be a better effort from the region to “brand the summer,” as most consumers do not know what Atlantic Canada means.
But, a growing region, with most traffic concentrated towards fall does see some congestion issues.
Joanne Salzedo, director, shore excursion product development, Norwegian Cruise Line, noted that when several ships are in port, tour availability is a real challenge.
“The ships are a destination,” she explained, “but they have to go somewhere. People want to buy a destination.”
Meanwhile, Carnival Cruise Lines has worked closely with tour operators to keep offerings fresh, as Carnival has had a long standing summer deployment out of New York to Canada/New England, recently adding cruises from Boston in addition.
“There are lots of things going on onboard the ship,” said Erika Tache, product manager, tour operations, Carnival Cruise Lines. “We need to continue the fun on shore too.”