Cruise line executives and destination stakeholders from the Caribbean, Central and South American, and Mexico gathered in a different way this year, with the annual land-based event of Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (FCCA) launching online.
Its regular scheduled programming of meetings and networking functions planned to be hosted in Jamaica, while also offering opportunities to experience new destination developments and initiatives, instead took place via Zoom on Friday, June 5, with more than 40 executives from FCCA Member Lines, which represent about 95 percent of the global ocean cruising capacity, and over 35 destination partners.
“While social distancing certainly is not normally a feature of our events, this may have served as one of the most important in our history,” said Michele Paige, President, FCCA. “Our partners are planning for the restart of cruise tourism and its vital economic contribution that will help restore normalcy to people’s lives, so there is a clear purpose to everything we do during these trying times, and we know things can be even better as long as we work together. “
“I would like to thank the Platinum Members for your continuous support of the FCCA,” said Michael Bayley, President & CEO, Royal Caribbean International, during the event. “I can assure you the cruise companies are fully supportive of the FCCA, and I think it is really important to talk about the partnership and the collaboration we are all going to need as we prepare for fundamentally the rebirth of the entire cruise industry and cruise tourism around the world and, of course, particularly within the Caribbean, which is the heartbeat of the entire cruise industry.”

The event launched with a welcoming address by Hon. Edmund Bartlett, Minister of Tourism of Jamaica, sharing hope and progress that could prove for Jamaica and the Caribbean possibly benefitting from the global pandemic through the proactive actions taken by so many.
Steps the cruise lines have made, along with the significance of partnerships between cruise lines and destination stakeholders, were also on display through addresses including Bayley’s, along with Richard Sasso, Chairman of MSC Cruises USA, praising Platinum Members and the overall industry for handling the adversity.
“The sign of great companies, or individuals or associations is not what they do day to day, is not what they have to do in normal business or their normal personal life; it’s how they behave when there is an adversity,” he said. “And I think I could proudly say that the FCCA, our stakeholder partners, particularly our Platinum Members, and certainly all of us individually have really come up to the task.”
Cruise executives also led the traditional PAMAC Meeting’s ‘head table’ in a less orthodox way, with e-chairs taken by Michele M. Paige, President, FCCA; Carlos Estrada, Director, Commercial Home Port Operations, Carnival Cruise Line; Richard Sasso; Steve Moeller, Sr. Vice President, Commercial Development, Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings; Russell Benford, Vice President, Government Relations, Royal Caribbean Cruises; and Juan Trescastro, Senior Director Itineraries, Destinations, Government Relations and Shore Excursions, Virgin Voyages.
Destination updates also continued as normally, with presentations given by Joe Boschulte, Commissioner of Tourism, U.S. Virgin Islands; Lela Simmonds, Port St. Maarten; Alejandro Caicedo, Puerto Rico Tourism Company; Lisa Cummins, Barbados Portsand Joy Roberts, Jamaica Vacations Ltd.
Other updates included Beth Kelly Hatt, Principal of Aquila Center for Cruise Excellence, sharing a new virtual training program for members, along with a new partnership poised to make this year’s FCCA Cruise Conference & Trade Show, taking place in San Juan from October 19-22, one of the best ever.