Mega-suppliers are polishing their demos and fine-tuning their booths. Leading executives are preparing their game-changing keynote speeches. Thousands of cruise industry professionals are finalising their travel arrangements, and the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center is organising its facilities in anticipation. All this can only mean one thing: Seatrade Cruise Global 2018 is fast approaching, and the entire industry is eagerly awaiting this year's expo and conference.
On 5-8 March, the leading annual global event for the cruise industry will bring buyers and suppliers together over four days, drawing more than 11,000 registered attendees, over 700 exhibiting companies from 113 countries and more than 300 media entities.
This will be Seatrade Cruise Global's most jam-packed conference programme to date.
The event starts strongly with the 'World Cruise Tourism Summit Part I - Striving to Deliver Authentic Experiences and the Future of the Shorex Industry'. This roundtable for cruise lines, tour operators and shore excursion authorities will tell guests how brands can collaborate with a variety of stakeholders, sharing the challenges and success stories behind delivering 'authenticity'. Then the 'World Cruise Tourism Summit Part II' will delve into geopolitics and discussions on port planning and improvement.
Visitors should also attend the 2018 State of the Global Cruise Industry keynote speeches, which are led by CEOs of the world's largest cruise lines. Moderated by CBS's news travel editor and PBS's 'Travel Detective' Peter Greenberg, a powerhouse panel will take centre stage, comprising Frank Del Rio, president and CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, Richard Fain, chairman and CEO of Royal Caribbean Cruises, and Pierfrancesco Vago, the executive chairman of MSC Cruises.
A bonus panel features Virgin Voyages' president and CEO Tom McAlpin, and Douglas Prothero, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection's managing director, will lead a speech entitled 'Innovation, Disruption and Setting the Course for the Future'. "Seatrade Cruise Global continues to be the epicentre of the cruise business, where leaders in the industry come together to share and exchange ideas," says Chiara Giorgi, brand director for Seatrade Cruise Global. "This newly added panel will set the tone for our most comprehensive programme to date."
On its second day, the conference will have eight different sessions and debut the 'Innovation Case Study Series' in the new Cruising Innovations Theatre. The event will also serve up dining trends with 'Enhancing the On-board Culinary Experience'. This interactive cooking demonstration will address the challenges of catering to a more discerning and diverse guest palate.
Another panel aimed at marketing and sales executives will look into the cruise world's 'crystal ball'. 'Getting Out of the Cruising Bubble and Attracting the Consumer of Tomorrow' is an engaging two-part session led by a business futurist that will be followed by a roundtable with cruise industry veterans discussing how to attract that elusive 'non-cruiser'.
Other day two, highlights include the 'Innovation Case Study II on Customer Experience Demos - Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence,' and the 'Safety and Security Symposium' panel, which include the 'Polar and Expedition Cruising Stewardship' discussion.
On the third day, more programmes will continue in the innovation case study series. As part of this, a new session entitled 'Enhancing Your Brand with Art and Interior Design - Defining Return on Investment and Trends in Cruise Ship Entertainment' will debut, incorporating experts across multiple disciplines. Another highlight focuses on regional markets, including 'The Future Outlook for Caribbean Cruising and Asia/Australasia'. Seatrade's 'Safety and Security Symposium' will return, offering multiple sessions, such as the much-anticipated 'Future for LNG-Powered Cruise Ships and Environmental Initiatives to Reduce Emissions'.
To bring the event to a close, Seatrade will bring experts from two trending areas of the cruising world together. 'Hospitality Case Studies - Digital Experience' will review the best practices of leading land-based companies communicating with consumers online. 'Top Travel Bloggers Speak Out' will share insight in the Cruising Innovations Theatre, capping off what promises to be the most engaging and insightful programme Seatrade has ever produced.
And through it all, there's the vast and galvanising expo hall, which contains groundbreaking suppliers, innovations and free learning sessions. Networking opportunities with peers and industry influencers include a charity table tennis tournament hosted by Adam Goldstein, president and chief operating officer of Royal Caribbean Cruises, to support the Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association, as well as a very special Anchors Aweigh Reception.
"Last year's Seatrade Cruise Global featured a record number of cruise executives who facilitated even more business between exhibitors and the industry," concludes Giorgi. "Our programming team has once again outdone themselves to create a comprehensive schedule of panels that attract industry leaders and decision-makers to Seatrade Cruise Global 2018."