Australia and New Zealand’s cruise industry united to celebrate the past 12 month’s successes at the 19th annual Cruise Awards on Saturday [15 February] night at The Star Sydney.
An audience of more than 500 travel agents, cruise line representatives and partners gathered to acknowledge the most dedicated members of the Australian and New Zealand travel trade.
Joel Katz, Managing Director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia said the evening was an occasion for the sector to come together to celebrate “all things cruise”.
CLIA Australasia’s 2019 Cruise Awards recognised 71 finalists from across Australia and New Zealand, vying to win 18 accolades. This year’s event featured more than 560 submissions, more than any other year.
Katz used the event, dubbed ‘The CLIAs’, to acknowledge the coronavirus situation facing the cruise industry. He said the gala was “an opportunity for us to unite and reflect on the challenges facing some of our guests and colleagues at present”.
“Our industry is highly responsive, responsible and resilient,” Katz said.
“Every day we hear stories and are amazed by examples of strength and spirit on display, people helping each other, supporting loved ones and strangers alike during difficult times. We know the impact this is having on you and your clients, and cruise line teams around the world are working hard to ensure the health and safety of our guests and crew remain the top priority.”
“Fortunately most cruises around the world are operating as usual and the extra measures that CLIA cruise lines have put in place globally will help to reassure travellers.”
Katz’s comments were reiterated by CLIA Australasia’s Chair, Sture Myrmell, who sent a recorded message from Asia from where he is handling the situation in his capacity of President of P&O Cruises Australia.
“Our industry is facing significant operational challenges as the world deals with the impact of the coronavirus,” Myrmell said.
“Coronavirus and how the world addresses it is a challenge for all organisations involved in travel and tourism, here and internationally. We are dealing with a dynamic and rapidly changing situation that will have an impact on how we promote, sell and operate our industry. However, in spite of all that is happening right now, I remain optimistic for the future.”
“As we know from experience, cruising is resilient. Cruise guests are fiercely loyal to cruising and to their favourite cruise lines,” he said.
Myrmell said it was the travel advisor’s “enthusiasm and positive outlook as our travel agent partners that helps build a level of trust that will help see us through these temporary challenges.”
The year ahead and beyond
Katz highlighted a number of key advancements in the local cruise industry to come in 2020, including the opening of a new cruise terminal in Lyttelton that will service the Christchurch and greater Canterbury region in New Zealand, along with the opening of the Brisbane Cruise Terminal later this year.
The Brisbane project “will perhaps be the season’s biggest landmark, boosting the city’s role as a homeport and lifting Queensland’s standing as an important cruise destination in the region,” Katz remarked.
The CLIA Australasia MD added that “behind-the-scenes progress” continues on the business case for a third cruise facility in Sydney.
Beyond 2020, Katz said the 2021 cruise season will bring “one of the biggest assortment of cruises that we’ve seen in Australia in some time”, including new home-ported ships and year-round or extended seasonal deployments.
“Having some larger newer home-ported ships will support our overall cruise capacity in this region and will create new opportunities for local cruising to showcase more of Australia and New Zealand.”
And the winners were…
“This year’s winners reflect an increasing level of dedication among travel agents when it comes to engaging with their clients and developing their cruise business,” Katz commented. “Their passion for cruising is stronger than ever and a sign of the growing levels of expertise among cruise specialists right across the Australasian travel trade.”
Top winners on the night included Julie Avery of BrightonTravelworld, named Australia’s Cruise Consultant of the Year, and Lorraine Van Veen of House of Travel Botany Junction, awarded New Zealand Cruise Consultant of the Year. Jeff Leckey of House of Travel was named Cruise Champion Australasia.
The full winners list for the 2019 Cruise Awards is below: