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Spotlight When the call opened for questions from the media participants, Chris Palmeri of Bloomberg asked about how cruise lines handle consumer expectations in adverse situations like hurricanes. “All of us who have been in the business for a long time are always somewhat amused by these questions…because the great advantage of our industry—if the weather’s bad one place, we take you to another,” said Goldstein. “There is no other sector of travel they can do that.” He also told this unique advantage is only getting better: “We were able to be quicker and more effective with our compensation offering for our one ship affected by Hurricane Florence this year because we knew exactly what we needed to do.” But sometimes perceptions misalign with realities, as the industry knows through its long battle of misconceptions before emerging as a mainstream vacation option, so the next question by Brian Major of TravAlliance Media seemed even more fitting—how does the industry counteract negative consumer sentiment? “That’s what we’re doing here today,” told Donald. “Just reminding people how vast the Caribbean is, how easy and fast it is to move our vessels and still give people a great experience for those moments when a storm might interfere with a previously planned itinerary. “The Caribbean is very large and has lots and lots of destinations and opportunities to experience…and we attempt to counter any negative perceptions that might come from people focusing on a particular storm or a particular destination… “The Caribbean is always open for business. Our ships sailed full during the storms


last year and are sailing full now, with people having a great time in the destinations. “If there’s a storm in Texas, that doesn’t keep people from going to New York…we have to just help people understand that the Caribbean isn’t one specific dot; it’s an expansive place with many options, and our assets are mobile.” Goldstein pointed out another industry advantage: “We’re very fortunate in this industry to have our travel agency outreach to the consumers, and there are tens of thousands of agent professionals


who understand that the Caribbean is open for everyone.” The agents talk directly to customers, he reminded, and their knowledge pays dividends in not only informing about new offerings, retail, marketing and more, but also situations like this. “So I think we’re in a good position to combat…anything that might affect the industry.” So were there any lessons learned or “tweaks” to be made following last year’s season, asked Hannah Samspon of Skift. “Yes, we just dealt with so many different permutations last year, and I think it put us in a position where we could react even faster than we have historically,” answered Goldstein. “And we’re all trying to get faster and better all the time. Continuous improvement is one of the hallmarks of the cruise industry.” Another hallmark is service, and he pointed out Hurricane Florence as an example of improvement already in the customer focus through rate offerings and itinerary changes. “Every year somewhere in the world there are typhoons, cyclones, hurricanes; this is a part of annual weather on the planet, so, we’re dealing with it,” said Donald. “In our case, with 106 ships going to 700 ports around the world, we deal with it every year somewhere, and we are pretty adept from cumulative learning.” One of those lessons came from establishing more back-up centers and relocation strategies to maintain operations, he informed. “In addition, since last year, particularly through Michele’s efforts, we’ve been much more proactive as an industry in working with the destinations to make sure that they

Travel & Cruise Fourth Quarter 2018