Cruise Baltic Conference Hosted by Tallinn, Estonia
Cruise Baltic’s mid-year Conference was held in Tallinn, Estonia’s capital and cruise port. More than 75 participants representing 25 Baltic ports and destinations attended the two-day event. Overseeing the event was Cruise Baltic Director 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 ongoing cooperation between the ports and the cruise lines,” Larsen said. “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 travelers with easy access to the 10 countries in our region.”
Following the recent publication of his latest research “Cruising Through the Perfect Storm,” analyst and journalist Tony Peisley acted as moderator on Day 2 of the proceedings. “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,” he said in his introduction. “Looking ahead, I predict modest growth, rising from today’s 20 million to 30 million 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 included presentations and Q&A panels. Featured speakers included Bruce Krumrine, vice president-shore operations, Europe & Exotics, Princess Cruises; Torsten Edens, head of international sales for Albatros Travel in Denmark; Allan Donoghue, port lecturer fleet trainer for Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises; Eduardo López-Puertas, vice president-land operations for Pullmantur; Tim Marking, secretary general for the European Cruise Council (ECC); Tom Strang, vice president-policy and regulation, maritime policy and compliance for Carnival Corp. & plc; Erik Ringmaa, chief commercial officer, Port of Tallinn; Geraldine Tate, shore excursion executive for Thomson Cruises; and Claire Martin, product manager for Noble Caledonia Ltd.
In between the business sessions, the City and Port of Tallinn showcased attractions, including a walk through the medieval Old Town just a short distance from the cruise berths, the picturesque town square, and dinner at the 300-year-old Kadriorg Palace. 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 new berth/pier is being planned as a destination, with shopping, entertainment and restaurant areas.
“We have been cruising in the Baltic for 30 years, and in this time we have seen an increase in the length of seasonality,” Krumrine said. In shore excursion surveys, their cruise passengers rated tours in the Baltic at 80 percent and higher.
“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,” Donoghue said. 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.
Cruise Baltic is a network of cruise destinations in the Baltic Sea offering easy access to 10 countries. The association, which started in 2004 with 12 destinations, has now grown to 25 destinations.