Cruise 360 Kicks Off: CLIA’s Sylvia Says “Believe," Florida Updates

“We are all here at Cruise360 because we believe,” Charles Sylvia, vice president of industry and trade relations, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), told 1,800 travel advisors and officials from host agency groups, trade franchise organizations and consortia on Wednesday. His inspirational welcoming talk kicked off CLIA's annual conference’s first General Session at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, adjacent to Port Everglades, FL

“We believe in cruise travel as the best way to experience the world. We believe in the strength of the cruise industry, which is propelling full speed ahead from a place of modest profitability to a prolonged period of prosperity,” he added.

Sylvia then told the Cruise360 trade attendees: 

  • "We believe in the travel agency distribution channel because when our clients book their cruises through us, they are better served and more prepared to have the best cruise experience possible and enjoy the highest level of guest satisfaction.”
  • “We believe in the opportunity to represent cruise travel, which has never been greater than it is right now, and in CLIA, to help us reach our maximum cruise sales potential and to develop into credible, industry-certified cruise travel experts.”
  • “And lastly, we believe in ourselves, whether independent or part of a larger organization. We are travel professionals offering a valuable service to our communities, making an important contribution to our economies and creating a better and more secure future for ourselves and our families.”

When asked, “Who here in this audience is here because they believe?” the audience—which included 500 travel advisors attending Cruise360 for the first time—responded with a robust round of applause. Sylvia concluded by comparing the start of the conference as to a cruise embarkation, asking, “Let’s set sail on the 2023 Cruise360, shall we?”

South Florida Officials Outline What's New

Calling travel advisors “the lifeline of our industry," Lamar Fisher, mayor of Broward County, FL, warmly welcomed the advisors: “We depend on you to fill our hotel beds, seats on the planes at FLL (Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport) and, most importantly, for those attending Cruise360, please continue to send your customers here to Port Everglades, which is the third largest cruise homeport in the world.”

Also speaking were Jonathan Daniels, CEO and Port Director, Port Everglades, and Stacy Ritter, president and CEO, Visit Lauderdale.

Audience at 2023 Cruise360 Conference in Greater Fort Lauderdale
Attendees at the 2023 Cruise360 conference at the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center.  (Photo by Susan J. Young)

Fisher and Daniels updated advisors about top Port Everglades developments since Cruise360 last unfolded at the destination in 2022. For example, Disney Cruise Line is set to begin operations in November 2023. Port Everglades is poised to become "Disney’s second year-round home port when we cut the ribbon to a newly re-imagined Cruise Terminal 4,” said Daniels. That will happen with Disney Dream’s arrival on November 20, 2023. He added that in summer 2024, Disney Magic will replace Disney Dream and launch a series of short itineraries from Port Everglades to Disney’s new private island, Lighthouse Point in the Bahamas.

Daniels also said Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Princess Cruises and Holland America Line are among the other lines offering cruises from Port Everglades. In fact, Port Everglades is Celebrity Cruises’ main homeport. “This past year we welcomed Celebrity Beyond with Olympic gymnast Simone Biles as the godmother,” Daniels said. "Celebrity Ascent will be named here in December and will offer short preview cruises” prior to that in November 2023.

“Princess Cruises is back year-round in 2024 with Enchanted Princess sailing through the summer,” he also said. Plus, Holland America Line will be offering longer itineraries with new ports of call and Royal Caribbean will offer both short and longer cruise itineraries.

Also, “we’re gaining a reputation in a luxury market along with a host of upscale cruise opportunities,” Fisher said, a reference to The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection and other luxury operators. 

In addition, the officials noted that not only is the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center expanding in a major way (clearly evident to advisors by the massive exterior construction work just outside) as an 801-room Omni Fort Lauderdale Hotel is being built adjacent to the convention center. So, the next time travel advisors return for Cruise360 in 2024, they’ll find the new Omni, which Ritter said will sport the largest ballroom in the Southeast.

"Everyone Under the Sun"

Speaking about Visit Lauderdale’s new “Everyone Under the Sun” campaign, Ritter explained to Cruise360 attendees that the destination is “a brilliantly diverse and welcoming community,” one that’s gained an international reputation for accessibility and inclusiveness. She also talked about one resource for advisors, Lauderdale Loyalist; this mobile learning platform is filled with information, photos and videos—showing the trade all the things their clients can see and do in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Travel professionals can find out more at

Ritter revealed that more than 1,300 travel advisors have registered for Lauderdale Loyalist thus far. In addition, more than 500 advisors have graduated from the program. "The knowledge that you gained will help you increase our hotel room stays both pre- and post-cruise," she told the advisors.

Speaking about Greater Fort Lauderdale's draw for travelers in 2023, “demand remains extremely strong and does not appear to be impacted by inflation or gas prices,” Ritter explained. “People’s priorities have shifted. [They’re] taking time to travel and experience new places." Sharing those experiences with loved ones is "a top priority.”

Current demand? Visit Lauderdale is seeing a 5 percent increase in hotel rooms sold compared with the same time last year, according to Ritter: “That equates to nearly 1,400 more room nights sold every single day."

Crediting the Cruise360 audience for the return of cruise and travel, Ritter told the advisors: “We have you the travel consultants to thank for this rebound."

Stay tuned today for our coverage of Cruise 360's keynote address by Kelly Craighead, CLIA's president and CEO, as well as upcoming coverage of cruise executive panel discussions. 

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