Kelly Craighead, CLIA President & CEO’s Address to Seatrade 2023

Kelly Craighead, President & CEO of CLIA

Published Apr 6, 2023 2:19 PM by The Maritime Executive

Thank you. 
I am glad to be here in Florida, and I am happier still that so many have been able to join us, and that I have had the chance to see so many friends already.
This is the perfect year to build on the strong and connected community that we have built over the last several years. As everyone in this room knows, cruise has a good story to tell, and we need everyone to get out there and tell it.

Kelly Craighead, President & CEO of CLIA

Like we to say -- #We Are Cruise

The “A”, “R”, “E” of that statement each have a meaning.

•    “A” – because cruise is accessible – because of the vast range and variety of cruise experiences available to a broad cross-section of travellers, and at many different price points. That is why we see such a diversity of travellers on board our ships, and why cruising appeals to groups and multi-generational families. It is also accessible to those with physical challenges or other needs, sometimes offering their only travel option.

•    “R” – because cruise is responsible – because our industry leads when it comes to advancing environmental technologies and practices that are respectful to communities. Cruise tourism is managed tourism – it allows cruise companies and destinations to work together to manage traffic flows and educate cruise passengers to be culturally sensitive and environmentally aware.

•    “E” – because cruise is experiential – we offer more choices in activities and experiences, plus the ability to explore more destinations in a multitude of ways. More than 60% of travelers who first visit a location by cruise return for a longer, land-based holiday – extending that experience further. Cruise travel also allows for personal growth and a greater understanding of the world – by introducing people to people, and people to destinations, in ways that create greater cultural appreciation.

These attributes give us an excellent foundation, and the outlook for our industry is extremely positive. 

This year alone, there are fourteen spectacular new ships set for launch in CLIA’s fleet. The order book through to 2028 shows 62 new CLIA ships, representing more than $40 billion worth of investment – that is a big show of confidence in cruise.  At the same time, the popularity of cruising is as strong as ever, and the intention to cruise has grown higher than it was before the pandemic and passenger numbers are likely to reach new highs as early as this year, with solid growth beyond. With favorable winds, we are now moving forward and creating a cruise industry that is sustainable, and delivering mutually beneficial experiences as we connect people and places worldwide.

This ability to make meaningful connections is one of the reason cruising stands out as the best way to travel. It is our motivation, and it is the reason we have such far-reaching ambitions for the industry we want to be. These ambitions are clearer today than they have ever been. But as we pursue them, we face challenges that threaten the advances we wish to make.   Environmental legislation – as well as other regulatory and legislative measures – have the potential to create billions of dollars in annual exposure if those policy frameworks that are being developed do not have realistic control measures. Simultaneously, some destinations around the world are re-evaluating the importance of cruise to their economic and social wellbeing.

That is why it is imperative that we rally our supporters and sing from the same song book. We need to ensure that cruise is heard and that our contribution is fully appreciated, so that cruise is incorporated into the development plans that will shape all industries in coming years. 

So, what is our story?
We are an industry that is dynamic, adaptable, responsible and demonstrates leadership in so many areas. Chief among these is our commitment to emission reduction. In deploying new ships with new fuels and new propulsion systems, cruise lines are achieving real progress today while also working towards even greater breakthroughs tomorrow.  New joint ventures, new research and development projects, new test operations and new partnerships are all focused on building momentum and bringing the next wave of technologies and fuels to fruition.

Meanwhile, on board, other innovations are achieving greater efficiencies, reducing energy needs and strengthening protections for the marine environment. Examples on ships due for delivery this year will include innovations that convert the heat associated with propulsion into electricity to supplement energy needs.

We will see further use of advanced software to monitor and optimize the energy efficiency of complex systems on board. We are going to see hydrothermal oxidation technology to address food waste, and engineering advances that reduce underwater noise to lessen the impact on marine mammals. Virtually every new ship brings new advances like these.
On shore, cruise lines are working with ports and destinations to achieve emission reductions in landside operations. 

This includes efforts to supply shoreside electricity, which will need to accelerate to meet the growing investment cruise lines are making in ships with this capability. CLIA cruise lines have a 2035 target for all ships to use shoreside electricity wherever available and are well on their way to achieving this. What these and many other initiatives show is that our industry and our supporting partners are not waiting to be told how to act. Instead, they are rapidly demonstrating the ingenuity and adaptability that will move us forward towards carbon-free cruising, while also showing the way for other areas of the maritime sector as we have done in many ways before.

Even as we face uncertainty on which propulsion systems and fuels will become the preferred options of the future – and which will be available at scale – the cruise sector continues to push ahead with advances that can be flexible and adaptable. Throughout this evolution, CLIA is taking a position of leadership – working with our members to define the path, collaborate with ports and destinations, and protect and promote the industry’s license to operate.

This includes demonstrating the very real and positive results of the industry’s progress. As our sustainability efforts accelerate, so too is CLIA’s work to engage with communities, rally stakeholders and gain the ear of governments. An example of this is the new interactive toolkit we launched recently to give our supporters the insight they need to be a part of our story.  Available at cruiseinfohub.com, it helps explain how cruising is an integral part of local economies and highlights our advances in sustainability, emission reduction, and destination stewardship.

Co-captains Greece, Dimitrios and Tasos Kafetzis. (Celebrity)

The first edition of this toolkit was presented in Europe a few weeks ago and is available in six different languages, with more regions to come. It acts as a showcase for the many positive stories emerging around cruise in ports and destinations internationally. Elsewhere, we are reinforcing our industry’s commitment to be at the forefront when it comes to fostering responsible tourism and supporting the communities our ships visit. In addition to the high bar already set by CLIA’s Maritime Policies on operations at sea, we are focused on the shared values we have for activities on land – aligned with the United Nations World Tourism Organization’s definition of sustainable tourism.

This includes the aspirations of our cruise line members to – 
•    Respect the environment in the communities that ships visit. 
•    Respect the quality of life, and the cultural and natural heritage of communities.
•    Contribute to the economic wellbeing of host communities and protect public health.
•    And to support decent work by fostering a rewarding employment experience to a diverse community of workers in operations in port communities directly and through partners and supply chains.    

Finally, we have many examples of cruise lines proactively collaborating with partners to identify best industry-level policies and practices, working in consultation with trained destination managers, to sustainably optimize cruise tourism in destinations.

As we unite on our path forward, we need to be heard. 
Together, we must correct misinformation and misperceptions wherever we find them, and we must ensure there are realistic control measures in the policy frameworks that are being developed.  Not only will this help attract more people to cruise, but it will also create the conditions necessary for cruising to remain the best way to see the world. We believe Cruise Lines International Association, CLIA, is the vehicle for supporting this work and we invite all of you to join us.

Our industry has evolved enormously already and shown leadership and agility on so many fronts, and we are now at a point where our efforts are being realized in tangible ways. We can look to our progress, our innovation, and our investment, and know we have established proof of the commitments we have made and the direction we are taking as an industry.
From here, this evolution can only accelerate. And it must.

The actions we take now and the decisions we face over the next few years will define us for decades to come. We are entering a new era of cruising, and I look forward to sharing this journey with you.

Thank you.