Cruise industry leaders and executives convened for the thirteenth edition of the International Cruise Summit (ICS) in Madrid, emphasizing the heightened competitiveness of cruising in contrast to traditional travel options of flights and hotels, which have witnessed exorbitant price hikes.
The ICS 2023, hosted on 14 and 15 November, explored the strengths of the cruise industry, showcasing its longstanding commitment to sustainability. Key discussions included the impact of new European immigration regulations, mental health considerations for both crew and passengers, and the industry’s responsiveness to the LGTBI+ community.
Inaugurated by Miguel Ángel Sanz Castedo, General Director at Turespaña, and Álvaro Rodríguez Dapena, President at Ports of Spain, the event drew top-level participants from over 25 cruise lines, ports, tour operators, travel agents, shipping agents, consultants, and companies worldwide.
A prominent theme that emerged from the summit was the value proposition of cruises, with more moderate price increases compared to flights and hotels. The industry is experiencing a favorable resurgence, aiming to surpass 2019 passenger figures this year and projecting a 20% increase by 2024.
Noteworthy developments include the introduction of the new EU immigration regulation by Frontex, anticipating the implementation of a border control system (EES) within a year. This regulation, involving biometric measurements and fingerprinting for non-European citizens outside the Schengen area, will necessitate significant adjustments to cruise terminal controls. With a focus on environmental sustainability, the summit highlighted ongoing programs and plans to electrify docks in the coming years, shedding light on crucial issues such as mental health for both crew and passengers and the necessity to provide training throughout the value chain to prevent uncomfortable or discriminatory situations with the LGTBI+ community.
Christopher Prelog, President of Windstar Cruises, interviewed by Virginia López Valiente, CEO at CruisesNews Media Group, emphasized the pivotal role of travel agents for luxury cruises. He underscored the importance of precise trip organization for discerning clients and affirmed Windstar Cruises’ commitment to Europe and Spain, including the repositioning of a ship in Barcelona and plans for the Canary Islands in 2024.
As part of its sustainability program, CruisesNews Media Group collected used books during the event for the libraries of hospital ships operated by the NGO Mercy Ships, which conducts essential operations in third-world countries for people in need. Additionally, all materials from the congress were donated to various associations.
Looking ahead, the dates for ICS 2024 have been announced, with the event scheduled for 12-13 November at the Hotel Meliá Castilla in Madrid. The summit promises to be a continued platform for industry leaders to address emerging challenges and opportunities in the dynamic world of cruising.