Three key takeaways from Seatrade Cruise Global 2024

Mark Dowling
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My highlights from Seatrade Cruise Global 2024, the biggest event on the cruise calendar.

As Vice President of Global Partnerships, I am Tower’s key representative at cruise events, and there’s no bigger event on the calendar than Seatrade Cruise Global. It’s my best opportunity to stay up to date on everything cruise, so that when I report back to Tower headquarters in the UK, I have new ideas on how to provide the best products and services and deliver top innovative solutions.

I couldn’t wait to jump on the plane to Miami this year. From what I had read and heard, I could look forward to brand new exhibitors, new products, new seminars, new features, and new faces that I could introduce Tower to. But what did I learn about the state of the cruise industry? What did I take away from the event this year? Here’s my three key highlights from Seatrade Cruise Global 2024.

CLIA is still best-in-class

As a Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Diamond Executive Partner, Tower are in an elite club. The partnership gives me direct access to key decision makers at events and allows me the opportunity to interact with members from all areas of the business. This helps me increase Tower’s sphere of influence, enabling us to widen our relationships and grow our profile within the industry.

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CLIA play a pivotal role as the chief advocate (and voice) of the cruise community. They provide mission-driven initiatives, brand discipline, unrivalled membership service and access to world-class talent. Being a Diamond Executive Partner meant I got to hear from CLIA President & CEO Kelly Craighead at the Annual Business Meeting. Kelly presented CLIA’s 2024 Strategic Priorities, including:

  • Support CLIA Members’ Pursuit of Net-Zero Emissions
  • Promote the Industry’s License to Operate in Key Ports & Destinations
  • Maximise Industry Growth and Advance a Best-in-Class Association

The influence of CLIA at events knows no bounds, as CLIA Chairman and President & CEO of Royal Caribbean Group Jason Liberty introduced the CLIA Global Board of Directors. The board comprises of the presidents and CEOs of the member cruise lines. Truly the who’s who of cruise operators.

Cruise is a global giant

The State of the Cruise Industry Report confirmed cruise tourism's record-breaking 2023 passenger volume of 31.7 million passengers. As a global industry, the Caribbean, Bahamas, and Bermuda region account for around 44% of these passengers. Tower’s latest distribution centre development is in Miami to service this sector. Closer to home, Europe and the Med represent just under 30%, which is why over our 20-years we’ve opened additional UK and European distribution centres.

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Tower's distribution centres around the world

Each year sees global CLIA member fleets becoming more efficient and sustainable. Cruise lines are also investing in propulsion technologies with conversion capabilities to provide a pathway to a future of alternative fuels. Fleets utilise a range of technologies and innovations to advance their sustainability initiatives. As well as a safe way to travel, cruise is becoming one of the most responsible, as cruise lines advance more ambitious sustainability agendas every year.

It's a must-attend event

With over 11,000 attendees and over 600 exhibitors from 120 countries, Seatrade Cruise Global remains untouched as cruise’s biggest event. Miami is the place to be in the second week of April, providing enriching conference sessions and ample networking opportunities. Even the most experienced and knowledgeable of attendees cannot avoid learning something new at the sector’s biggest trade event.

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My personal highlight was a presentation by a VP of Global Strategic Sourcing entitled ‘Strengthening Our Supply Chain’. This was an extremely open workshop for suppliers (including established ones like Tower) to put the cruise line’s scale into context and hear suggestions on how to create a competitive advantage and understand the latest criteria for responsible and sustainable sourcing.

These are my three quick takeaways from this year’s event. But I believe that the scope and scale of Seatrade Cruise Global must be experienced first-hand to truly understand its influence and power within the cruise industry. One thing is for certain, Tower will be back on April 7th, 2025!

Mark Dowling6 TOWER21
Mark Dowling
Vice President of Global Operations

A leading authority on the cruise industry, Mark has board-level experience and has been involved in cruise since 1995, moving his focus to suppling cruise in 2014.

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