Those words in the headline were uttered by Pierfrancesco Vago, executive chairman for MSC Cruises and global chair of CLIA, during his opening remarks at this week’s State of the Global Cruise Industry, which kicked off this year’s Seatrade Cruise Global, taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
This year’s Seatrade Cruise Global overarching theme, “resilience,” was top of mind during the keynote address, with Vago noting that it’s “great to be together across the borders and oceans. It’s a testament to what we have overcome and it’s a show of confidence” in our industry. Vago added that the industry has seen “remarkable progress,” noting that “even before we enter the summer season, we can see the momentum building.”
CLIA’s global chair spoke to an audience that included representatives from 80+ cruise line brands and 500+ exhibitors from over 140 countries. Those numbers, coupled with the numbers Vago mentioned during his talk—88 percent of CLIA members have resumed service and by the end of July, 95 percent will be in operation; there are more than 250 ships in operation; and 7.5 million passengers have sailed on a cruise since mid-2020—speak volumes and underline the fact that cruising is back…resoundingly so.
And when it comes to the safety on board ships, Vago noted that “cruise lines sailed with the highest level of COVID mitigation in the world, offering a multilayered approach to testing, vaccination…. We created an environment unlike any ashore. The incidents on our ships were a fraction of what occurred ashore during the height of the pandemic. While many questioned our viability, we were busy turning our ships into the safest holiday.”
In fact, the numbers do speak for themselves. Adding to the aforementioned data, nearly 100 percent of CLIA ocean-going capacity is projected to sail by August 2022, with 280 ships projected to sail in 2022 across 100 countries and regions.
Travel trade partners—you are all so important to this industry.
— Pierfrancesco Vago, MSC Cruises’ executive chairman and global chair of CLIA
Echoing Vago’s confidence in the cruise industry, Kelly Craighead, president & CEO for CLIA, noted, during the State of the Global Cruise Industry, that “as we gather here today, we do so as a community that’s closer than ever. We can be proud how CLIA and the travel trade, as well as the rest of the cruise industry, responded to the last two years.
“As the industry resumes operations, passenger volume is expected to recover and surpass 2019 levels by the end of 2023, with passenger volumes projected to recover 12 percent above pre-pandemic levels by the end of 2026.”
Both Vago and Craighead spoke about the importance of sustainability, with Craighead noting that “we are better positioned today to reach our goals in sustainability.” She stated that “CLIA member lines have committed to pursuing net-zero carbon cruising by 2050.” Additionally, by 2035 all ships calling at ports where onshore power is available will be equipped to plug in, allowing engines to be switched off and thus eliminating carbon emissions while at port.
And during the State of the Global Cruise Industry Keynote’s roundtable discussion, moderated by BBC World News presenter, Lucy Hockings, Arnold Donald, now vice chair of Carnival Corporation, said, “Our people came together in ways that were unprecedented and it brought us closer together. We are all committed and doubled down on our focus to get to zero emission.
“We’re a resilient industry. Overall trajectory has been very positive,” with Jason Liberty, president & CEO of Royal Caribbean Group, noting, “We are definitely on the other side of this. Our guests are once again enjoying the best vacations in the world.”