Skift Take

There's no mention of the Costa Concordia in the announcement about the new global cruise trade association, but the incident, and the need for a more unified global voice, underlies its formation.

The Costa Concordia disaster early this year may have spurred nine cruise industry associations from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific to form a just-announced global trade association under the Cruise Lines International Association banner.

The existing Fort Lauderdale-based Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) counts 26  North American cruise lines among its members, and the two largest cruise lines in the world, Carnival Corporation and Royal Caribbean International undoubtedly call the shots in this most-influential cruise association.

With its power in terms of industry-leading passenger capacity, it is no surprise that the nine organizations chose CLIA as its global trade association brand.

The cruise industry around the world felt the backlash on safety and security issues, and battered sales, from the Costa Concordia’s sinking, and Carnival, which owns the Costa Cruises brand within Carnival’s Europe, Asia and Australia segment, would much rather wield its influence through a global CLIA as the industry voice than through a Carnival loudspeaker.

The associations teaming up in the new organization include Cruise Lines International Association, European Cruise Council (ECC), Asia Cruise Association (ACA), Passenger Shipping Association (PSA/ACE), France’s AFCC, Brazil’s ABREMAR, Northwest and Canada Cruise Association (NWCCA), Alaska Cruise Association (ACA), and International Cruise Council Australasia (ICCA).

“For cruise lines, the new association offers a one-stop global resource on technical and regulatory issues and unified global communication and event coordination, all of which better leverage cruise lines’ investment in association membership,” the new organization states. “For travel agents, the new association offers more robust partnership programs and networking on a broader scale. For executive partners, it provides greater opportunities for customer and business partner development.”

Asked what the new trade association’s regulatory priorities would be, David Peikin, a spokesperson, says:

Looking ahead, we are focused on a wide range of regulatory issues around the globe that promote policies and practices that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment.

Carnival Corp. COO Howard Frank will chair the new CLIA, and Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the current CLIA, gets the same titles in the new organization.

During the immediate aftermath of the Costa Concordia fiasco, Carnival sought to have all of the information emanating from Italy, one industry insider says, “but the media rightfully came right to Carnival’s doorstep in Miami.”

The new global CLIA will enable the industry to speak as one when it comes to hot-button issues in times of crisis, including on regulatory matters, and that should provide some buffers to cruise powerhouses such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean.


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Tags: clia, costa

Photo credit: A general view of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia surrounded by cranes, near Giglio Porto, October 12, 2012. Max Rossi / Reuters

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