It was a cruise passenger’s dream lineup: Hundreds of destinations from around the world hyping the benefits of visiting their communities.
Actually, the ports and communities weren’t interested in talking to prospective passengers. Their goal was to convince cruise lines — the bigger the better — to visit their fair shores.
I was strolling through the Marketplace at Seatrade Cruise Global. More than 11,000 cruise industry participants gathered at the Miami Beach Convention Center this week to discuss trends and sell one another things. There were hundreds of Marketplace participants, promoting such diverse products as dishware, deck chairs, propulsion systems and destinations.
The California ports of Long Beach, San Pedro, Catalina Island and San Diego were there to sell themselves.
“We want people to take cruises from our destinations,” said Chris Chase, business development manager for San Pedro’s Port of Los Angeles. Chase was staffing the Cruise the West booth, representing ports up and down the West Coast, plus Hawaii.
“When cruise lines are choosing ports, we don’t want to be left out of the process,” he said.
We talked a bit about destinations: Why should a Southern Californian sail locally? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to take a Mediterranean or Asian cruise?
“Big cruises like that are once-in-a-lifetime vacations that cost a fortune,” he said. “You can take a short cruise from San Pedro and have a great time without spending much money.” Makes sense.
I walked on. The Swedes were pouring Champagne, the Aussies were handing out sausages and grilled shrimp, and the Scots were playing bagpipes.
I was drawn to the booth representing Papua New Guinea, where huge photos showed tribe members in costume. The country north of Australia has more than 600 islands where more than 800 languages are spoken. P&O Cruises Australia, an offshoot of the British line, sails there, and the country would like to attract some smaller expedition ships. Papua New Guinea also would like more visitors, but not too many at one time, the representative said.