‘Collaboration’ helps cruise sector overcome challenges

The cruise sector is enjoying high load factors and generally avoiding ongoing issues seen elsewhere in the travel industry thanks to collaboration, “tremendous” logistics and “a little bit of luck”.

Cruise industry veteran Peter Shanks, who has been the UK and Ireland managing director at Silversea Cruises for nearly five years, outlined reasons why cruise lines can be buoyant about the future during a Travel Weekly webcast on Tuesday (August 2).

Silversea’s parent, Royal Caribbean Group, revealed last week that load factors on June sailings were “almost 90%” and predicted they would increase to “triple digits by year-end”.

Asked why cruise was currently outperforming other sectors, Shanks said: “A great deal of collaboration amongst the cruise lines through Clia, a tremendous history of logistics and making sure we’re very good at operations.

“There’s always going to be a little bit of luck.”

But he added cruise lines were “not overconfident” and insisted the sector still had challenges to overcome “like everybody else”.

Long call wait times for agents trying to get through to suppliers has been one issue the wider industry has grappled with as operations ramp up following the peak of the pandemic.

Shanks said he was “very proud” of his London-based team which answers around 98% of incoming calls, but he admitted Silversea was “a small business” compared with other suppliers.

He appealed to travel agents and his Silversea team to work together and not get frustrated with one another.

“We know there are challenges but I think 90% to 95% of travel is happening as it should,” he said, adding: “I will just plead to all of our friends across the industry to be kind to each other.

“When we have a problem we work together.”

However, he said while the “vast majority” of customers were getting away without any problems, the issues that remained needed to be resolved by “early winter”.

“We certainly can’t afford this happening for another year, that’s for sure,” he commented.

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