Fred Olsen Cruise Lines' Nathan Philpot questioned whether the cruise industry was ageist as he highlighted the importance of the older cruiser.
Speaking at Clia's Columbus Day in Liverpool, sales and marketing director Philpot questioned whether it was right to try and attract a younger audience of cruisers.
He said considering one third of the population - 18 million people - is over 55, cruise lines and agents should be targeting this pool of potential cruisers.
"Cruise is a love it or hate it product as far as I'm concerned," he said, highlighting that 62% of clients are not interested in cruising, 14% have been on a cruise and 24% would consider it.
"That means there are 17 and a half million people that already are existing cruisers or potential cruisers," he added. "What are we doing wrong? We're not catering to the needs of the over 55s market."
Philpot referred to the response to BBC's recent series The Cruise: A Life At Sea, which featured a Fred Olsen world cruise, by asking if the cruise industry was ageist.
The show received a negative reaction from the industry with some saying it highlighted the preconceptions of cruising being for the older generations.
"It did cause a few issues about age. It was a world cruise average age of 69. The industry didn't seem to like looking at cruisers as they are. Perhaps we prefer the airbrushed views of cruisers.
"Are we as a cruise industry ageist?"
Philpot said research by the cruise line had showed that the biggest barrier for bookings was the preconception that is was suitable for older clients. But he said that point should be a positive rather than a negative and that the industry should be doing more to cater to the 18 million over 55-years-old.
He added: "We need to question ourselves - are we promoting the image of cruise that we feel more comfortable with or the image of cruise that us most relevant to the audience we are talking to?"
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