I spent last week attending the fabulous annual Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) conference in Southampton.
CLIA is an independent organisation who bring together cruise lines, travel agents, associated travel partners and are dedicated to the expansion of ocean and river cruise holidays.
2 years ago, I hadn’t cruised and couldn’t see me cruising – I thought it wasn’t for me, it was for old people, I would get fat with all the food, I’d get seasick – all the usual excuses. As part of my Continuous Professional Development, I undertook the fabulous array of courses CLIA have designed and am delighted to say that I have achieved the highest qualification of Cruise Master.
As part of this training, I went on numerous ship visits, training days, mini cruises and cruises on ocean and river ships. I’m HOOKED!!!!! I don’t say that lightly – I was quite adamant cruising wasn’t for me, and now I can’t understand why everyone doesn’t cruise.
There’s a cruise line and ship out there for everyone. It’s a case of matching you to the right line and ship and I can confidently say I can do that now.
The theme for this year’s conference was ‘Cruise Revolution’.
I decided to arrive a day early to attend a Masterclass on board MSC Splendida. She’s a Fantasia-class cruise ship. I wasn’t sure what to expect and had a pleasant surprise. She’s very much Mediterranean in style and the service is second to none. I adored the sparkly gold Swarovski crystal staircase.
Next day was the opening ceremony held by our very own ‘Ant and Dec’, Andy Harmer, VP CLIA UK and Ireland and Lucy Huxley, Editor in Chief, Travel Weekly. They certainly know how to work the room and hold the interest with fascinating stats and updates in the Cruise Industry.
Our ship visit today was the gorgeous P&O Ventura. We played a game to make the ship visit more fun and I was delighted to win a prize of a free 2 night cruise with P&O. Having said that, my highlight had to be meeting the awesome Marco Pierre White.
Marco works closely with P&O, and brings his expertise to the gala night menus in the main restaurants, Café Jardin on board Oceana, and the Ocean Grill on board Arcadia. He’s not as scary as you would imagine, but shhh – don’t tell him I said that! ;-)
That evening was a Trade Fair and Street Party at the Mayflower Terminal in Southampton. It was a great opportunity to meet all the suppliers, make new contacts and find out more about the latest developments in the cruise industry.
Penultimate day was the official conference, with some top notch keynote speakers. I was particularly enamoured with Larry Pimentel (or Luxury Larry) from Azamara cruises who gave brief details of some fabulous research they’ve undertaken. The cruise industry is just growing and growing and customer feedback is second to none.
Arnold Donald, Chief Executive of the Carnival Corporation had us raptured; so much so that we voted him for next US President.
All the speakers were absolutely superb and I have come home feeling more motivated and energised than ever – and I’m a motivated, energised person already!
The evening gala dinner was superb and we were treated to entertainment by Princess Cruises, holding the final of the ‘Voice of the Ocean’ competition.
Final day – and what a finale! We were the first agents to board the gorgeous Royal Caribbean Harmony of the Seas. She took our breath away. If you read my previous blog, you can find out much more about her.
This is definitely an annual pilgrimage for me. There are so many professionals in this industry who are passionate about what they do. We are all pulling in the same direction in that we want you, our clients to have the most amazing time and to be so in love with this form of travel that we can’t wait to get home and book our next trip (NB: You can actually book your next trip on board and get some amazing deals).
If you’re interested in hearing more, please do get in touch. I’m always happy to have a chat and help you find your perfect cruise!
Love, Lizzie xx