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INTERNATIONAL CRUISE SUMMIT 2023In an era where skyrocketing airfare and hotel rates have become the norm, the cruise industry emerges as a beacon of hope for travellers seeking affordability without compromising luxury. The International Cruise Summit (ICS) 2023, held in Madrid, unveiled this paradigm shift, positioning cruises as a more competitive and viable travel option.

The summit, attended by industry moguls and over 25 global cruise lines, emphasized the cruise sector’s resilience and adaptability. A key takeaway from this year’s ICS, which took place on 14 and 15 November, was the industry’s commitment to sustainability, a cornerstone in its strategy to redefine sea travel.

Miguel Ángel Sanz Castedo of Turespaña and Álvaro Rodríguez Dapena, President of Ports of Spain, inaugurated the event, symbolizing a united front in the industry’s journey towards a sustainable future. Discussions at the summit covered a spectrum of pertinent issues, from new European immigration regulations mental health considerations for crew and passengers, to inclusivity for the LGTBI+ community.

International Cruise Summit (ICS) in Madrid

International Cruise Summit (ICS) in Madrid.

A significant theme at the summit was the comparative cost-effectiveness of cruising. Unlike the steep price hikes observed in flights and hotels, cruises have managed moderate price increases. The industry is recovering and thriving, with projections indicating a 20% passenger increase by 2024, surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

The introduction of the new EU immigration regulation by Frontex was a hot topic. The regulation, which includes biometric measurements for non-European travellers, will require revamping cruise terminal controls, presenting challenges and opportunities for streamlined operations.

Environmental sustainability remained a focal point, with initiatives like dock electrification and comprehensive training programs to ensure a discrimination-free environment for the LGTBI+ community being highlighted. The summit underscored the industry’s dedication to not just environmental health but also the mental well-being of its stakeholders.

In conversation with Virginia López Valiente, Windstar Cruises President Christopher Prelog shed light on the luxury cruise segment. He highlighted the indispensable role of travel agents in curating experiences for discerning clients and reaffirmed Windstar’s commitment to European and Spanish destinations.

In an inspiring display of corporate social responsibility, CruisesNews Media Group organized a book collection drive for Mercy Ships’ hospital ship libraries, emphasizing the industry’s commitment to global welfare beyond the seas.

As the industry sets its sails for the future, the following ICS, slated for 12-13 November 2024 at Hotel Meliá Castilla in Madrid, promises to be a crucible of innovation and growth, reflecting the ever-evolving dynamics of the cruise industry.




Written by: Christine Nguyen