JOEL Katz, Managing Director CLIA Australasia
Investment drives a big year
In an industry already well accustomed to innovation and expansion, 2019 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting years in some time for the global cruise sector.
New levels of investment and advances in ship design have set the scene for a busy schedule of launches and refurbishments, meaning an even greater choice of experiences for the Australian traveller and further opportunities to catch the attention of new cruisers.
Over the next 12 months we will see the introduction of more cruise ships than almost any other year, with around two dozen new-build vessels to take to the seas.
They range from giants with capacities for more than 6,000 passengers through to smaller vessels designed for luxury voyages, expedition cruising and polar exploration. In fact, around half of the new ships to debut in 2019 are designed for expedition cruising.
Across the existing world fleet, several ships will reveal new features and refurbishments, introducing a more sophisticated selection of dining choices, entertainment and activities. Interior design has emerged as a key focus among cruise lines as they work to define their own distinct personalities, and we can expect to see greater levels of creativity on board both new and refurbished ships this year.
Other areas of evolution in cruising include the deployment of innovative new technology such as apps and wearable devices that allow guests to personalise their experience and manage aspects like shore excursions, activities, dining and onboard expenses.
But perhaps the most significant area of innovation in cruising is sustainability.
CLIA recently announced a landmark commitment to a 40% reduction in carbon emissions across the global cruise fleet by 2030, the result of a historic industry collaboration.
This will be achieved through new advances in ship design, propulsion and alternative fuels, as in the case of AIDAnova which launched at the end of last year and is powered entirely by liquid natural gas (LNG). In all, some 25 LNG ships could be operating by 2025, resulting in significantly lower levels of emissions than ships operating on conventional fuels.
Protecting the oceans and our atmosphere is a key objective of CLIA cruise lines, and each new generation of cruise ship introduced will bring new advances in environmental technology — from new fuels and exhaust cleaning systems through to waste management and water treatment.
There’s much to celebrate in cruising this year, including our industry’s top achievers. This month, CLIA will honour the best and brightest at the annual Cruise Industry Awards in Sydney, and the standard of submissions we’ve received shows how engaged and committed our cruise specialists are. We congratulate all our award finalists and look forward to celebrating with you.