Cruise Industry Wise To Keep Touting Caribbean Recovery
Open Jaw, Bruce Parkinson
Michele Paige, President, Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association
Last September may be remembered as one of the most horrific of months in cruise industry history.
But September 2018 was defined by several smart moves by cruise industry leaders, along with a boost from Mother Nature, who for once is cooperating with the cruise industry, when they need it most.
If there had been another year of bad hurricanes challenging the islands, it may well have been a knockout blow for business in the months ahead. So far, nothing.
As the hurricane season is well more than halfway through without any major hits, we wondered why we received an invite to attend a conference call on 20SEPT for a Caribbean update.
The call would feature Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association President Michele Paige, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. Vice Chairman Adam Goldstein, and Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald. But after all it had been months since the same execs told everyone the Caribbean is back to normal. What more needed to be said? Perhaps it would make more sense to downplay the anniversary.
On the call there was not news per se, but there were important statements to be made, and listening to the speakers we began to understand the rationale behind the call. Execs may well have noticed that since the start of September, the North American consumer media picked up coverage of the continuing story of Puerto Rico.
It's not been one story and out. Time and time again people have been reminded of the devastation, the hurt, the bad politics surrounding the horror. It was ongoing even during the wreckage of parts of the Carolinas by Hurricane Florence and subsequent flooding.
Given all that, they may have sensed it was time for a counterpunch. Just because there are no hurricanes hitting the islands doesn't mean it's time to rest on the messaging that the islands are back. Tellingly, subsequent media coverage of the conference call has been more trade-oriented than consumer-oriented.
It was worthwhile to once more hear the sincere words of Michele Paige. She's been heading up Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association since 1994, and it didn't sound scripted when she said, "It has been my personal mission for almost 30 years to maximize cruise tourism's potential for Caribbean destinations and the people."
Referencing what she called the historic hurricane season last year, she said: "There was an equally historic recovery by destinations like the British Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, and the U.S. Virgin islands.
"It was because of the people's willingness to work 18-hour days, dripping sweat, after sleeping without air conditioning, all to restore those kinds of utilities for potential guests."
Adam Goldstein also congratulated the "tremendous effort" that people in the destinations affected have put into recovery: "They're not aiming for where they were before the storms, they are aiming for where they want to be in the future as our industry continues to prosper and grow."
Bruce Parkinson Editor-in-Chief
An observer and analyst of the Canadian and international travel industries for over 25 years, Bruce uses the pre-dawn hours to prepare a daily news and information package to keep industry members up to date.