TALLINN – The Port of Good News – HOSTS CRUISE BALTIC CONFERENCE

26 June, 2012

TALLINN – The Port of Good News – HOSTS CRUISE BALTIC CONFERENCE

* attended by Baltic Sea Region destinations and ports; and joined by international cruise industry colleagues *

 Estonia’s capital and popular cruise port Tallinn was host this month to network Cruise Baltic’s mid-year Conference. Over 75 participants representing 25 Baltic ports and destinations attended the 2-day event at one of Tallinn’s centrally-located hotels, with the objective of debating important topics and challenges today facing the cruise industry in the Baltic Sea Region.

Instrumental in the strategic planning was Cruise Baltic Director, Bo Larsen, introducing to the Conference delegates prestigious industry guests, who presented on a range of issues from itinerary planning trends and the importance of port lecturing, to industry safety and updates on ECA regulations.

Additionally, on the agenda for the first day, project Consultant Luis de Carvalho – CEO Consult DC, acted as moderator at a session attended by Cruise Baltic members of the Ports Service Standard Working Group, who achieved their goal of agreeing on the format for a Port Service Standard and rating system for the Baltic Sea ports. An industry FIRST, an interactive document will be produced featuring the elements at each pier on every port to be rated. Says Luis: “As far as we are aware, other cruise regions might have spoken about it but never applied it in practice. In addition to being a cruise line tool, this process will allow us to benchmark our Baltic destinations, motivating each port to reach the same, consistent standards. With this monitoring system in place we can assess what is needed for the future."

Says Bo Larsen: ‘With 44 cruise lines and 88 ships operating in the Baltic, we will never cease in our mission of striving to create a platform of business opportunities, ensuring on-going co-operation between the ports and the cruise lines. There is always room for improvement and we must continue to achieve our goals by doing better. At our next meeting in Oslo in October we shall concentrate on our future strategy for growing business, providing cruise travellers with easy access to the 10 countries in our region.”

Following the recent publication of his latest research “Cruising Through the Perfect Storm”, renowned analyst and freelance journalist Tony Peisley acted as moderator on Day 2 of the proceedings. In his introduction he said: “Since 1974 the cruise industry has always coped with what has been thrown at it and at the end of each year, still more people are cruising than in the previous year. Looking ahead I predict modest growth – rising from today’s 20m to 30m by 2024/25. There are, however, more issues to consider and itinerary planning is certainly now more complicated. Even in times of economic recession, in terms of the travel industry, the cruise sector performs best in terms of sales and satisfaction levels.”

Day 2 of the Conference then comprised a variety of informative presentations from Cruise Baltic’s international guests on all aspects of the cruise experience, concluding with Q & A panels. These were:

Bruce Krumrine, Vice President, Shore Operations, Europe & Exotics, Princess Cruises

Torsten Edens, Head of International Sales, Albatros Travel, Denmark

Allan Donoghue, Port Lecturer Fleet Trainer, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises

Eduardo López-Puertas, Vice President, Land Operations, Pullmantur

Tim Marking, Secretary General, European Cruise Council (ECC)

Tom Strang, Vice President Policy & Regulation, Maritime Policy & Compliance, Carnival Corporation & plc

Erik Ringmaa, Chief Commercial Officer, Port of Tallinn

Geraldine Tate, Shore Excursion Executive, Thomson Cruises

Claire Martin, Product Manager, Noble Caledonia Ltd

In between the business sessions on the Agenda, the City and Port of Tallinn had the opportunity to showcase the many relevant attractions, from a walk through the medieval Old Town – just a short distance from the cruise berths – visiting the picturesque town square, to dinner at the 300 year-old Kadriorg Palace and tour of the Port and retail outlets. With its five existing cruise berths and Saaremaa (a small island 135 miles away), Tallinn welcomed 301 cruise ships and 437,000 passengers in 2011, with a similar number expected in 2012.

Increased demand is resulting in the construction of a new berth, scheduled in time for the 2014 season.

 The subjects and commentary from the guest speakers’ presentations included:

 * Bruce Krumrine, Princess Cruises: “We have been cruising in the Baltic for 30 years, in this time we have seen an increase in the length of seasonality.” He stressed that customer satisfaction is paramount to the success of the ports. His key message was that ports remain affordable and work together in an environment of trust, improving facilities. In shore excursion surveys their cruise passengers rated tours in the Baltic at 80%+.

 * Torsten Edens, Albatros Travel: though as tour operators they have been offering escorted tours since 1986, they are a ’new player’ in the marketplace. Selling direct, not through agents, they are currently co-owners of Ocean Diamond and Clipper Adventurer. “2013, however, will see the launch of Corinthia II and the need for us to offer new, unique and hidden destinations to our discerning guests of 55 years plus, who are looking for a  ‘once in a lifetime trip’.”

 * Allan Donoghue, Royal Caribbean & Celebrity Cruises: “With five ships operating in the Baltic this Summer our focus is to ensure accuracy of destination information for our guests, ensuring their experience is memorable.” He stressed that the role of port lecturers on board is vital and key to the success of the guest’s port experience – the content must be delivered articulately and be factually correct.

 * Erik Ringmaa, Port of Tallinn: provided an introduction to the port of Tallinn, with its gates/close location to Stockholm, Helsinki and St Petersburg. The numbers of cruise passengers visiting are growing but the number of vessels is not growing hence the need to develop more infrastructure to be in place to meet these demands. The new berth/pier scheduled for completion in 2014 is being planned as ‘a destination in itself’ – with its shopping, entertainment and restaurant areas, cruise visitors will have no need to leave the port.

 * Eduardo López-Puertas, Pullmantur: Leaders in the Spanish cruise market, with four ships in Europe, one in the North Sea, this season operating Baltic itineraries out of Tallinn and Copenhagen. He commented: “We work two years in advance on itinerary planning and from the ports we look for stable rates, security, clarity and clear procedures on berthing reservations. Operating an all-inclusive policy on board, shore excursions are even more important so disembarkation has to be fast and efficient. For our passengers to visit new places is the foremost motivation for cruising – out of the top 10 ports for shore excursions, four are in the Baltic.”

 * Tim Marking, ECC: the Secretary General spoke of on-going regulatory issues, including the importance of restoring the industry’s reputation following the Costa Concordia incident – an immediate response was to set up an industry review on operational measures to be heightened and implemented globally with immediate effect – the end of 2012 should see news of preliminary findings. Additionally the subjects of Sulphur Directives, Port Reception Facilities proposals, Schengen visas, VAT and Passenger Rights were featured in his talk.

 * Tom Strang, Carnival Corporation & plc: directing his comments to the ports, he said: “on waste handling you need to do better and offer improved recycling facilities; frequently we only find out about changes to port rules on discharging when our ships actually arrive in port. We need more consistency and a firm framework from which to work, with regional regulations. Taking waste from a ship by truck is simply not acceptable. You, the ports are our voice and we the cruise lines need a flow of updated information from you.”

On conclusion of the Conference, Cruise Baltic received numerous, supportive endorsements and comments from the industry participants who attended, for example:

Claire Martin, Noble Caledonia Ltd: “I was incredibly impressed with Cruise Baltic. The well-organised conference gave me a great opportunity to meet the Baltic port and excursion agents and the talks were both exceptional and very informative.”

 Bruce Krumrine, Princess Cruises: The meetings and activities were interesting, pertinent, open, and well-organized. The city and port of Tallinn also did a creative job in hosting the event and showcasing many of its most popular attractions.

“We enjoy a close and constructive working relationship with Cruise Baltic and its member ports and  look forward to their ongoing help and support as we face both opportunities and challenges in the Baltic region in the coming years.”

Allan Donoghue, Royal Caribbean Cruises: “It was an honour for me to be part of the Cruise Baltic conference. The experience was invaluable and much of the informative material I have already passed on to our Baltic fleet of ships, which will help us in our task of continuously improving our on-board Destination Talks.”

Geraldine Tate, Thomson Cruises: ”I found the opportunity to meet representatives from so many Baltic ports of calls and other cruise lines invaluable.  Working together, learning of new and different ports of call and exchanging ideas is the best way to ensure cruise ships keep visiting the Baltic area to explore the history and beauty it has to offer.”

Cruise Baltic is a network of cruise destinations in the Baltic Sea offering easy access to 10 countries on a string with an ocean of adventures. The association – started in 2004 with 12 destinations, headed by Director Bo Larsen – has now grown to 25 destinations.

For images taken at the Cruise Baltic conference, or further questions please contact:

Bo Larsen, Director of Cruise Baltic, on tel.: +45 6120 9674 or at bnl@woco.dk

Or

Jill Faulds, PR Consultant, JF Associates, on UK tel: + 44 (0) 1795 536446; or at jill@jfapr.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cruise Baltic

Nørregade 7B ∙ Dk-1165 Copenhagen K

Phone +45 3325 7400 ∙ contact@cruisebaltic.com

cruisebaltic.com

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