Airlines and cruise lines are starting to worker closer together, but the sectors could still collaborate more, particularly in the area of product offering, a panel on cruising heard at World Routes. In a discussion led by Christine Duffy, CEO of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents cruise lines globally, cruise representatives said they were looking to improve their guests’ holiday experience by working with airlines whose products align with their own.
Brian Powell, head of guest travel services at Royal Caribbean, said the line had worked with Emirates Airline to fly guests from the USA to a Celebrity Cruise Lines ship home ported in Asia. “Typically from the US guests would fly west to Asia. In this case we packaged with Emirates and they fly east to Dubai, with a stopover. We did it as a test – to date we have had more than 200 bookings; it’s proved pretty popular,” he said.
Powell said that particular package had worked as the Celebrity product, which is seen as a premium brand, aligned well with the Emirates product and service, which guests appreciated. However, Condor’s head of planning and international relations Eric Oberhuber said that airline’s experience with what type of product cruise lines want for their passengers had been very different.
“We have a three-class configuration with premium economy offering extra leg room and a different service. But when we talk to cruise lines, they want all-economy aircraft to put in as many passengers as possible. Cruise lines are saying there is too much product differentiation and they just want people transported. We don’t understand it,” said Oberhuber.
The panel also examined the role of destinations in fly-cruise packages. Hugh Riley, CEO of the Caribbean Tourism Organization, said managing the relationships between airlines, cruise ships and local communities was a “delicate choreography for destinations”.
“We need to get more information from the cruise lines on how passengers view the destination. The cruise lines get information from their guests on the cruises, but we need to bridge the gaps between the experiences guests are having,” he said.