THIS year’s Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia Cruise360 conference attracted a whopping 580 attendees, including a record contingent of 90 Kiwis, making it the largest cruise conference in the southern hemisphere.

The fifth annual event highlighted the potential of the industry and unpacked the key theme of sustainability, along with panel sessions on reputation management, challenging the stereotypes of cruising, exploring the small ship market and how agents could make the most of their partnership with cruise lines.

“There are nearly 94% of Australians who haven’t taken a cruise yet, which really gives us the confidence that there is a lot of opportunity for further growth,” CLIA Australasia managing director Joel Katz told the conference.

“We are not only meeting the demands of existing customers, but also attracting new customers to this amazing industry,” he said.

Norwegian Cruise Line president and CEO Andy Stuart delivered the keynote, emphasising the cruise industry’s capacity for innovation, citing examples including Norwegian’s race track at sea and Royal Caribbean’s North Star observation pod.

“Innovation is not always about the big idea, it’s often about a lot of smaller ideas that can really change the business,” Stuart said.

“Big ideas are great, but think about the small things that can be game changers as well because there is rarely ever a single silver bullet,” he said.

Cruise360 also featured plenty of opportunities to catch up with suppliers at a trade show which ran throughout the day.

Close to 50 exhibitors showcased their companies, with several new additions joining the ranks for this year’s event.

Next year’s Cruise360 will be held on 30 August 2019.

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