Hundreds of delegates have converged on Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic this week for what is already being described as a successful 28th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) conference, which kicked off on Tuesday and continued through Friday. Senior cruise executives from FCCA Member Lines have been busy today meeting with tourism representatives from across the region’s public and private sectors, in an effort to improve cruise tourism business and develop opportunities for growth across the region.
Michele Paige, CEO of the FCCA, said: “The conference represented a new beginning after a difficult pandemic, and I am heartened to see renewed enthusiasm for cruise tourism”.
“We’re family and family always comes together. During the pandemic, we did communicate a lot and we even became stronger because of that communication … so it’s an exhilarating feeling that this is going to be better than ever.”
While challenges – such as inflation, supply chain issues and docking capacity – need to be tackled head on, many destinations and cruise lines have reported a robust rebound to the sector, especially with the easing of pandemic-related health protocols. Paige also shared the “time is now” for Caribbean destinations to present creative customer-focused experiences for consideration by the cruise lines. “We need more product in the destinations,” she said, explaining that shore excursions don’t need to cater only to large groups.
She suggested tours accommodating guests with as few as 10 passengers could fit the bill for the cruise sector as well as experiences catering to a variety of tastes, ranging from exclusive to budget. “So the time is right to be able to put things into place, whether it’s a new walking tour, whether it’s a new adventure tour, whether a people-to-people (experience).
“It’s the education, it’s the history and the culture and this is what people want. This is what’s going to make the destination shine through.”