Gallery: Clia Conference 2017

The cruise industry can benefit from the capacity squeeze in the western Mediterranean as more holidaymakers book early to bag the best deals.

Gavin Smith, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ senior vice-president and a keynote speaker at this week’s Clia Conference, said there was an opportunity for agents to sell cruise early as an alternative to package holidays in Portugal and Spain, where prices have soared.

“The holiday dynamics in the UK are changing,” he said. “With more holidays being taken in the western Mediterranean and less of the (eastern) Mediterranean open for package holidays, this leads to early demand – and the [cruise] industry can benefit from this.

“Cruise is growing at pace and UK agents have a pivotal role.

“People in the UK take more than 35 million holidays annually and 1.8 million cruises. Our agency partners are the key to unlock the 33 million yet to consider a cruise.”

Smith will address delegates at the Clia Conference in Southampton today (Thursday).

Other speakers will include Carnival Cruise Line president Christine Duffy, AmaWaterways president Rudi Schreiner and Clia president Cindy D’Aoust.

Smith added: “Cruise holidays are seen, to those not engaged, as a single category, but they are not. From river and ocean to expedition and touring, there are so many choices, and new-to-cruise clients more than any spread this word.

“We need to educate agents on all things related to cruise, so they can assess, and then advise their guests, if they believe a cruise holiday is right for them.”

Smith said that while the destination remained “the number-one reason” to buy a cruise, with 50 new vessels on the order books, the ships themselves were becoming the destination.

Gallery: Clia Conference 2017