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Cruise lines must champion sector’s environmental record, agents are told. Harry Kemble reports from De Vere Wokefield Estate, Berkshire

Cruising’s eco credentials ‘will be key for first-timers’

Championing environmental sustainability in the cruise sector will be key to attracting millennials in five years’ time, according to Carnival Corporation’s Tom Strang.

The cruise giant’s senior vice-president for maritime affairs, who also sits on Clia Europe’s environment, safety and security committee, called on lines at the Clia Winter Cruise Forum to talk about how they are making ships more environmentally-friendly.

Strang said: “My kids are my benchmark. They are my biggest critic about what we are doing for the environment as we see the younger generation coming through and being our customers of the future. We see more and more questions from the millennial generation and that is what we have come to expect.”

When asked how long it would be before new-to-cruise customers would place more emphasis on sustainability performance when choosing a holiday, Strang replied: “Five years.”

He added: “We are not very good at talking about it. The environment is hugely important to us.”

But he argued cruising wasn’t a major culprit. He said: “The percentage of pollutants that come from shipping is actually very small. Far more comes from road traffic in cities.

“We want to promote the green benefits of cruising. Cruising is a clean way of going on holiday. People need to understand that and not give us a hard time.”

Carnival Corporation is set to build seven ships powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG) before 2022. It claims the vessels will be the first in the industry that will be able to use LNG to generate all their power both in port and at sea. The first is due to be delivered to Aida Cruises next autumn.

Rival operators Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruise Line and MSC also have LNG-powered ships on order.

Strang added: “One of the things people don’t understand is the investment we have made in LNG.”
Strang revealed Carnival would use its LNG ships as a marketing strategy “in some markets”.

Cruise agents ‘must bring in tech to in-store service’

Travel agents selling cruise holidays need to introduce technology to their in-store experience or risk being cut adrift, according to Deloitte’s Alistair Pritchard.

The financial services company’s lead partner for travel warned delegates at the 2017 Clia Cruise Forum it would be a “failure” if agents did not look at how technology could help their businesses.

“Cruise is a type of holiday that needs agents to help the consumer understand what is going to be the best cruise and the best experience for them,” he said. “But you cannot get away from stats that say the consumer is continuing to get more digitally savvy.”

Pritchard suggested a customer’s phone could be scanned as they enter an agency and information from that scan sent to the agent, allowing them to be prepared when the customer approached them in the store.

“If I was an agent I would be doing it,” he said, adding: “If I was a cruise line I would be doing it.

“The technology is there. There can still be that human interaction which allows technology to be used.”
Pritchard also spoke about the rise of luxury business trips, as well as how the consumer is searching for better value.

He added: “With cruise you get much better value for money, and people are leaning towards all-inclusive because they know what they are going to spend on board.”

Clia Tell us about when you #FirstSetSail

Clia UK & Ireland has launched an initiative to encourage travel agents to share their first cruise experience.

The cruise body this year topped the 4,000-figure for travel agency members for the first time. Andy Harmer, senior vice-president for membership, used the achievement as a springboard to launch the #FirstSetSail initiative.

To take part, Clia is encouraging agents to post details of their own first cruise, plus the itinerary, favourite excursion and best meal.

Harmer said: “We all remember the first time we took a cruise and some of the experiences on offer on that cruise were incredible. We want the travel agency community to share that experience.”

To take part, agents must record and share a short video of themselves describing their first cruise experience on Twitter (@CLIAUK) or Facebook (@CLIAEurope) and using the #FirstSetSail hashtag.

The best entries will win prizes supplied by cruise lines. Deadline for entries is January 15.

Leven: Defusing Brexit fears has been top challenge

Clia UK & Ireland chairman Stuart Leven said “taking the heat out of Brexit” had been his biggest challenge since taking on the role.

Leven also said it was time to increase ship capacity across the cruise industry now that the country is “over the worst of Brexit”.

Addressing delegates at the Clia Cruise Forum, Leven, who is also Royal Caribbean’s vice-president for Europe, the Middle East and Europe, said: “The biggest challenge has been taking the heat out of Brexit. No one knew what was going on.

“I think over time we recognised that it did not have the impact [on business] that we thought it was going to.”

Last week MPs backed an amendment giving them a legal guarantee of a vote on the final Brexit deal.
The House of Commons vote has prompted speculation that the UK’s exit from the EU will be delayed.

Clia Cruise Excellence Awards 2017 winners

Businesses and individuals that have demonstrated exceptional levels of knowledge, leadership and inspiration throughout this year were honoured at Clia’s Cruise Excellence Awards.

The awards, the cruise trade body’s ninth, were held after the Clia Cruise Forum.
World Travel Holdings walked off with two awards.

High Street Travel Agency of the Year
Midcounties Co-operative Travel

Online Travel Agent
World Travel Holdings

Travel Agent business of the year
World Travel Holdings

Cruise Innovation
The Travel Network Group

Clia Rising Star
Cruise Direction

Cruise Manager
Carol Kirkham, Kirkham Travel, Preston

Cruise Advocate
Sam Griffiths, Cruise.co.uk

Travel Agent Advisory Council Chair’s award
Adele Foster, Clia

Outstanding Contribution to the Cruise Industry Award
Michelle Russell, Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Phil Nuttall, The Cruise Village

Special outstanding contribution Award
Presented posthumously to Maria Pittordis, Hill Dickinson

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