Onsite: Seatrade Put Cruise Execs on Display

MIAMI-A spirited panel discussion led by six of the most influential executives in the cruise industry kicked off day two of the Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention in Miami. Bob Dickinson, president & CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines; Richard Fain, chairman & CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises Limited; Stein Kruse, president & CEO of Holland America Line; Rick Sasso, president & CEO of MSC Cruises USA; Colin Veitch, president & CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line; and Celebrity Cruises' president, Dan Hanrahan traded industry thoughts and even a few barbs in a morning session on the state of the cruise industry. The cruise lines' heads gave candid insight on an assortment of cruise line issues, including changing demographics, deployment and sourcing, destination strategy, distribution and economic issues. Highlighting the role of travel agents, Carnival's Dickinson, known for his frankness, said that interest was waning in making a career out of being a travel agent. "It's difficult to find more young people," he said, adding that more and more agents are becoming home based. "Interest isn't there." Attracting first-time cruisers is also becoming less important to travel agents according to Dickinson, which he called disconcerting. "It's hard to tap into them unless agents are more proactive," he said. NCL's Veitch shed some optimism on the gray cloud hanging over Caribbean pricing. Current softness, he said, is being caused by the present economic cycle, not by structural problems or concerns. Declining Caribbean prices is "temporary," Veitch said, and is a result of factors such as gas and housing prices. (DE)

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