Cuba, China, and the Super Bowl
Cruise News – Mar. 20, 2015
[[Here’s what we learned this week at Cruise Shipping Miami 2015, the cruise industry’s largest annual gathering.]]
On a “State of the Global Industry” panel, hosted by CNN’s colorful business correspondent Richard Quest, the two Cs — China and Cuba — were very much on the minds of cruise industry leaders. Asked by Quest whether there’s a secret drawer of plans for Cuba at each cruise line, Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, said he’s ready to deploy ships to Cuba at the snap of a finger when the U.S. embargo is lifted. “The wonderful thing about the cruise industry is we bring our own infrastructure,” Del Rio said.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman and CEO, Richard Fain, took a more measured approach, saying, “I’m not sure any of us are ready.” Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corp., said the company clearly has Cuba on its radar, while Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman of MSC Cruises drew a laugh when he said, “We’re European. We have no embargo. We’re already there.”
As for China, its growth potential drew lively discussion. Fain called the China market a “blank sheet of paper” in terms of growth. Donald said the Chinese “are the largest nation of tourists in the world” and said there would “absolutely be a need for lots of ships.” But he said there are challenges, including that Chinese don’t necessarily know what a cruise vacation is. According to a new Cruise Lines International Association report, China/Asia now represents 6 percent of the worldwide cruise market, tied with Australia/New Zealand as the fourth-largest market in the world.
Donald also added that his company did the entire cruise industry a favor with its recent (and expensive) Super Bowl ad, which he said got 5 billion impressions online before it aired and another 10 billion after.
“We footed the bill for the Super Bowl on behalf of the industry,” Donald joked.
Photo: John and Sandra Nowlan
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