Michael Mihajlov, Carnival Australia; Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises Michael Mihajlov, Carnival Australia; Stuart Allison, Princess Cruises

Cruise urged to talk to locals

A Sydney-based cruise executive who offered to help Kiwi regional tourism offices and local operators spread a positive message around their communities is likely to get a few calls in coming weeks.

The need to dispel negative perceptions of cruise in some of the public was a much touched on topic during the New Zealand Cruise Association conference in Auckland last week.

Panellists like Oscar Nathan, general manager Tourism Bay of Plenty and Jacqui Lloyd, general manager Tourism Marlborough point out that surveys indicate the vast majority of people in their regions are positive about a cruise restart. Other speakers referred to the ‘buzz’ that cruise brings to regions and the positive media response to last week’s cruise restart in Auckland was also welcomed.

However, there is no doubt that some people are still nervous about having cruise ships back – particularly in smaller towns and regions.

Mike Mihajlov, director destination management, Carnival Australia, says the company’s philosophy is to try to have a conversation with negative residents.

‘Try to talk face to face, if there are any detractors in the community invite them in for a chat. It is easy to get caught up in the news but once they meet the real people in the business we can demystify the situation and reduce any hostility.

‘If you have any specific issues I am very happy to help you.’

NZ cruise rebound set to be ‘slow and steady’

The cruise season ahead will be ‘up and down’ and effected by the same issues that confront other areas of the tourism industry, the New Zealand Cruise Association Conference was told yesterday.

‘We need to be honest, some ships will come in (with loadings) just as normal and others won’t,’ says Mike Mihajlov, director destination management, Carnival Australia. ‘It will be slow and steady – I think one to two years before we are back to normal.’

He says the shortage of staff and other resources in destinations will provide challenges.

‘It is our responsibility to communicate to guests that it’s not business as usual but we are doing the best we can.’

He says the well-publicised difficulties around air travel may work in cruise’s favour in some instances.

‘A lot of our business is round-trip, especially from Australia. It is a great way to do the bucket list in New Zealand.’

Research backs strength of cruise comeback

Market research indicates that the public’s readiness to cruise is now at levels even greater than before the pandemic, says Joel Katz, managing director Australasia for Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).

Speaking at last week’s New Zealand Cruise Association Conference at Aotea Centre, Auckland, Katz noted that surveys indicate 84% of past cruisers say they would cruise again, a rate higher than 2019 levels.

‘The portion of people who have never cruised before but say they are open to cruising in the future is now 69%, also higher than in 2019.

‘Millennial cruisers are the most enthusiastic about taking another cruise, with 87% indicating they will sail in the next few years – a clear sign of our industry’s strength across generations.’

Katz says the ability to create and maintain confidence among guests and communities will be crucial as the industry works to not just revive pre-pandemic property but exceed it.

‘Projected passenger volumes are forecast to return to their pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2023. But as the global cruise fleet expands, we will still need to increase annual volumes to fill a demand gap of about 4.7 million passengers by 2025.’

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