In a keynote speech kicking off Seatrade Cruise Global 2018’s opening conference, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) president and CEO, Cindy D’Aoust, highlighted the industry’s growth and sales potential.
She also revealed that CLIA would undertake an environmental and destination sustainability initiative and promised to give an update at next year’s conference.
“Simply put, this is a really pivotal year for us,” D’Aoust said. “In fact, I believe 2018 will be remembered as the year the cruise industry unified behind great goals and worked together like never before.”
Talking of the cruise industry’s potential, she said; “In 2018, we expect to welcome more than 27 mill passengers on board the 449 CLIA cruise line ships with another 27 new ships expected to debut this year.
“By any measure, we’re in the midst of a ‘global travel rush,’ with more people from around the world visiting more destinations than ever before,” she added.
For example, she said that a rising middle class, growing interest in the world’s culture diversity and the built-in human desire to explore, “promises an expanding market for travel.”
She quoted the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), which predicted that by 2030, there will be another 600 mill international travellers, creating a pool of 1.8 bill travellers.
Speaking about the cruise sector in particular, she said; “Not only are we adding to our fleet, our ships are getting bigger.” From 2020, more than half of CLIA member lines’ vessels will carry 3,000 plus passengers, she explained.
Those travelling on cruise ships usually don’t witness the many less glamorous but important duties the lines perform, she said, giving examples of water recycling, food disposal, fuel efficiency, port infrastructure enhancements and hundreds of other initiatives to ensure responsible environmental stewardship.
“But there is one crucial difference,” D’Aoust said. “Because we are at sea, we must do it better. We must be more efficient, we must be more effective and we must be more mindful than the land based resorts.”
“Cruise lines must think differently about everything that they do from packaging materials to the use of certain products,” she said. “That ‘do more with less’ mindset has resulted in a much smaller footprint.”
Today, cruise ships recycle 60% more per passenger than the average person does on land, she explained. “No single industry relies more on the splendour of our oceans, planets or seas, the pristine beauty of our pristine harbours and seaside communities.”
She also said that CLIA believed no single community had a greater initiative to protect the environment and ensure that the ports and destinations that cruise ships visit thrive in a sustainable fashion.
“This is more than just a business responsibility,” she said. “It’s a call to leadership. And if anything cruising’s rapid growth makes this responsibility more urgent, our leadership even more critical.”
A major example was the innovation in cruise ship propulsion, which has led to 16 liquefied natural gas (LNG) powered ships ordered. The cruise lines were also looking at whether emission-free hydrogen fuel cells could eventually power ships.
Recently, cruise lines have formed partnerships with the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Galapagos Conservancy and the Central Caribbean Marine Institute and to protect historic sites, industry associations are also forming alliances with local destinations and groups, such as UNESCO, she advised delegates.
“These are just a few examples of cruising’s commitment to clean air, clean water, preserving marine eco-systems and strengthening local destinations, along with many other steps to ensure that we are good stewards of the environment and good partners with our port communities,” D’Aoust said.
CLIA both recognises its responsibilities and was actively embracing its duty to operate sustainably, she claimed, adding that its mission was also to work with its member cruise lines.
For the future, she said that this year, CLIA will be focusing on forming innovative partnerships that result in action, but also pointed out that promoting pristine waterways and sustainable destinations is a job bigger than any single industry can handle.
“So in 2018, it’s time to take the next leap in terms of our industry’s leadership – to act not just as one company but to showcase our strength as one industry with one voice committed to addressing the world’s most important challenges. We need to make our commitments clear.
“As an industry we must define a set of industry-wide commitments to environmental and destination sustainability by setting high standards and holding ourselves accountable,” she stressed.
“In response, many of our cruise lines have already partnered with the world’s most renowned sustainability organisations, such as ORCA, the World Wildlife Fund, Nature Conservancy, to promote the common interests we share in ocean conservation,” said D’Aoust, for example, building new coral nurseries in the Caribbean, protecting fish habitats and reducing CO2 emissions.
CLIA also plans to form partnerships with conservation groups, scientists and other experts to identify advanced tools, top business practices and innovations that member lines can adopt to advance sustainability.
D’Aoust emphasised that leadership in the cruise industry doesn’t mean responding to trends – it means jumping ahead of them. It doesn’t mean reacting to rising environmental awareness; it means raising the bar on the cruise industry’s own performance.
“We don’t just work to meet public expectations,. We strive to surpass them. I’m looking forward very much to taking this journey with you, and lifting cruising to new heights of sustainability, responsibility and opportunity,” she concluded.