Cruise Ship Leaders To Discuss Industry's Future

Leaders of several cruise lines are meeting in Miami on Tuesday to discuss the state of the industry. The conference comes after a series of setbacks, including a cruise ship losing power for days in the Gulf of Mexico.

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In Miami this week, more than 10,000 representatives of the cruise ship industry are gathering for an annual conference. In terms of accidents, it was a tough year for the cruise industry.

And yet, NPR's Greg Allen reports that cruise ship operators see mostly smooth sailing ahead.

GREG ALLEN, BYLINE: It was a year ago January when the Costa Concordia ran aground and overturned along Italy's Tuscan coast, killing 32 people. And then last month's drama, when a fire on the Carnival Triumph knocked out power and many news organizations covered every moment over the next five days as the ship - and its more than 3,000 passengers - was towed back to port.

A Harris poll released shortly after the Carnival Triumph incident showed it affected how Americans felt about cruising. Trust in cruise lines dropped significantly. But so far, it hasn't greatly affected sales.

CAROLYN SPENCER BROWN: People who have cruised before, they're not impacted or daunted by what happened with Carnival Triumph. They're still booking cruises.

ALLEN: That's Carolyn Spencer Brown, of Cruise Critic, a website that follows the industry. She says at this week's meeting, there's a lot of talk about growing markets - especially Latin America and Asia and one of the fastest growing industry segments - river cruises.

BROWN: It's very intimate on board. And when you get into town, you know, you're not one of 3,000 or 4,000 passengers dumped off for the day. You can really kind of connect with the places that you're visiting. And I find it absolutely magical.

ALLEN: At the conference in Miami Beach today, several cruise line CEOs will sort through the best of times, worst of times, scenario playing out now. Later in the week, Carnival will be looking to share some of its hard-won experience. It's showcasing its Care Team and training others how to support passengers and crew in traumatic situations.

Greg Allen, NPR News, Miami.

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