September 14-18, 2020

SUMMIT REPORT In partnership with Future of Travel Week: Cruise bosses discuss passenger safety and buoyant book

Cruise return ‘will not be like switching a light on’


resumption of international cruising would not be “like switching on a light”,

says Royal Caribbean’s Ben Bouldin, who compared the return to a dimmer switch with lines gradually reintroducing sailings. Bouldin, Royal’s vice-president

for the EMEA region, said lines had worked in collaboration and applied a mindset that there is “no competition when it comes to health”. Arguing that there was “no room

for false starts”, he added that lines needed to implement health and safety improvements but also had to deliver “a vacation experience that is better than it was before”. Ellen Bettridge, chief executive of

The cruise industry

has always been innovative and we’ve put guest wellness at the heart of that

Uniworld, said: “The message we are getting across is ‘how do you book with safety, how do you book with confidence and how do you book feeling good about the decision you are making for your holiday’. “We want that holiday to be a

holiday; it can’t be that you go out and everyone’s far from everyone else, you aren’t laughing and you aren’t meeting new friends.”

Cruise bosses ‘super-optimistic’ for bookings for second half of 2021

Demand for both ocean and river cruises is strong for the second half of 2021, according to executives, who anticipate a rapid recovery once the sector can fully restart. Ellen Bettridge, chief executive of Uniworld, said: “We are having a pretty

darn good 2021. We are seeing on average about 20% of bookings are the ‘move-over’ (rebookings) and the other 80% are new bookings. “The third and fourth quarter is

absolutely packed, we are way up. I am super-optimistic and I think our [agent partners] should be as well.” Lucia Rowe, managing director


Uniworld’s proportion of new 2021 bookings rather than rebookings

of A-Rosa, said 2021 was looking strong and 2022 could look “better than ever”, with 70% of bookings from customers who had taken an ocean cruise. Ben Bouldin, vice-president EMEA for Royal Caribbean, said: “We all

saw how quickly the industry had to stop but I think equally it could come back just as dramatically. There could be a real ‘hockey-stick recovery’. Citing “showcase moments”, including the upcoming addition of ships to the fleet, he added: “Next year’s Q2, Q3 and Q4 look very exciting.”

12 24 SEPTEMBER 2020 Lucia Rowe, UK managing director

of A-Rosa Cruises, said the river line’s experience of resuming sailings in some European destinations had shown the ability to adjust itineraries as required and the importance of ensuring passengers were fully aware of how the experience could differ from pre-Covid sailings. Andy Harmer, director of Clia

UK & Ireland, said the return of river cruise lines and ocean lines such as MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises reflected the sector’s ability to evolve. He said: “People shouldn’t be

surprised about what the cruise industry has been up to. “We have always been innovative

and we’ve put the wellness of our guests at the heart of that.”

Clockwise from above: Ben Bouldin, Royal Caribbean Cruises; Lucia Rowe, A-Rosa

Cruises; Lucy Huxley, Travel Weekly; Ellen Bettridge, Uniworld; and Andy Harmer, Clia UK & Ireland

Suppliers use coronavirus pause to reassess their trade approach

Cruise suppliers have used the pause of operations to reassess how they approach trade partners, including responding to shifts in agents’ business models. Ben Bouldin, vice-president

EMEA for Royal Caribbean, said the company planned to revamp its Club Royal agent programme ready for the wave booking period in the new year. He added: “We have ensured

that our sales teams have remained active throughout. “The retail side of things is

a bit different today. There’s definitely an appetite for more homeworking, and how you service that part of the industry

is going to take some thinking through. But the trade will remain absolutely critical to the industry’s return from this.” Andy Harmer, director of

Clia UK & Ireland, said the association had pivoted to digital communications and virtual events to maintain engagement.

Royal’s Spectrum of the Seas

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