Ones to Watch

Kelly Craighead
Kelly Craighead

Here is a look at the cruise industry innovators to keep an eye on.

Joining Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in January, Kelly Craighead, new president and CEO, has an impressive record. Spending 15 years in the public and private sectors, Craighead most recently served as deputy assistant secretary for travel and tourism in the U.S. Department of Commerce. Also, as the first executive director of the National Travel & Tourism Office, she led initiatives generating more than $250 billion annually from international visitors to the U.S. Agents are looking forward to seeing her at CLIA’s Cruise360 conference May 12-18, 2020 in Vancouver, BC. 

Another executive to watch is Jeff Vahle, president, Disney Signature Experiences for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. The 29-year Disney veteran oversees Disney Cruise Line, where he serves as president, along with Disney Vacation Club, Adventures by Disney, Golden Oak and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa. At the cruise line, he’s responsible for four ships and Castaway Cay, Disney’s private Bahamian island. Agents can’t wait to see what Vahle has in mind for three highly anticipated new Disney ships to be delivered in 2021, 2022 and 2023. 

In expedition cruising, Andrew White, president of Quark Expeditions will introduce Quark’s newest polar expedition vessel, Aquamarine, in late 2020. It will feature two twin helicopters and two heli-decks, 20 Zodiacs, and optimized fuel, water, provisioning, and waste-handling systems, allowing for extended operations and new itineraries. 

Also keep an eye on Vantage Deluxe World Travel, including its Vantage Cruise Line. The company has a robust river cruise product and the cruise line will launch its first new luxury expedition vessel, Ocean Explorer, in 2021.

Certainly, demand for expedition cruise itineraries has burgeoned. Coral Expeditions, Adventure Canada, Metropolitan Touring, Poseidon Expeditions and others who own their own ships are also taking guests “off-the-beaten path” for tropical, polar or Galapagos adventures. On global rivers and canals too, consumer demand has fostered growth by Pandaw in Asia, Aqua Expeditions on the Amazon and Mekong rivers, and many barging specialists including European Waterways, French Country Waterways, Barge Lady and others.

On a different front, the cruise industry has strongly supported Bahamian islands this year post-Hurricane Dorian. Telling the cruise industry’s humanitarian story and advocating support for impacted destinations has been Michele Paige, president, Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (F-CCA) who explains that each cruise ship port call in the Bahamas typically represents more than $650,000 in local economic benefits.

She also talks about cruise industry donations ($8 million and counting). For example a $2 million joint donation came from the Carnival Foundation, Carnival Corp.’s nine cruise brands and Chairman Micky Arison and his wife Madeleine’s Family Foundation. 

Ones to Watch

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