That message was delivered loud and clear at the Cruise Lines International Association’s (CLIA) Cruise360, their annual conference and trade show, held at the Broward County Convention Center in Ft. Lauderdale, April 18-23.
“The overarching message to advisors was that cruising is sailing into a bright future, and there’s not been a better time to be selling cruise vacations.”
Described by CLIA as “Our biggest professional development event of the year, Cruise360 features a week’s worth of professional development, ship inspections, networking and the latest industry trends.” This year’s event was sold out, with some 1,800 travel advisors in attendance, including 500 first-timers.
As an organization, CLIA represents “95% of the world’s ocean-going cruise capacity, as well as 54,000 travel agents, and 15,000 of the largest travel agencies in the world.” Headquartered in Washington, DC, it has regional offices in North and South America, Europe, Asia, and Australasia.
CLIA’s vice president of industry and trade relations, Charles Sylvia, did his best Ted Lasso imitation at Thursday’s general session, encouraging advisors to “Believe” in the opportunity to sell the world’s best vacation experience.
That sentiment was echoed by CLIA president and CEO, Kelly Craighead, along with cruise line executives and senior sales leaders throughout the conference. CLIA also shared their “2023 State of the Cruise Industry,” which highlighted a number of trends and statistics, including:
— “Cruise continues to be one of the fastest-growing sectors of tourism,” with almost 40 million passengers forecast by 2027, up from 20 million in 2022.
— In 2023, 14 new ships will launch, and 44 are planned through 2028.
— Interest in expedition cruise travel is at an all-time high.
— Increased interest in taking longer cruises, coupled with land excursions that offer immersive cultural experiences, partially driven by the rising cost of airline fares. Tourists want to make the most of their travel opportunities.
— Solo cruise travel is on the rise, and cruise lines are doing more to cater to this group.
— A higher interest than ever from first-time cruisers, with 73 percent saying they would consider a cruise vacation.
Protecting the environment and sustainability were also top-of-mind topics for panelists.
The overarching message to advisors was that cruising is sailing into a bright future, and there’s not been a better time to be selling cruise vacations.
PHOTOS by Gerry Barker
- CLIA’s Charles Slyvia appeared as Apple TV’s soccer coach Ted Lasso at Cruise360
- The Celebrity Cruises booth at the Cruise 360 trade show featured bubbly and a mock-up of their trademark “Magic Carpet” from their Edge-class ships
Cover photo: The Magic Carpet, a cantilevered, floating platform, credit Celebrity
Ed. Notes: CruiseCompete and its member travel advisors provide many curated cruise and land deals, offers and amenities on over 50 cruise lines with over 500 cruise ships sailing all around the world.