“As a former colleague of mine used to say, ‘We’re not in the kind of busi- ness where you can hand out samples on the street corner,’” he notes. “Almost everyone in America has friends or family who are fanatical about cruising and yet, for whatever reason, they don’t sign up.”
Some non-cruisers fear seasickness; others shun the concept of being “stuck” on a boat teeming with partying twenty-somethings or swarming with tour-guidebook-toting geriatric folks. Many are mired in misperceptions born of the “Love Boat” era of cruise vacations, when passengers lounged on deck chairs by day and gorged themselves at all-you-can-eat buffets by night. Plus, recent events, including the grounding of Carnival’s Costa Concordia, a fire aboard Royal Caribbean’s Grandeur of the Seas and viral outbreaks aboard several ships, haven’t exactly helped convince ground-bound travelers to trade their spacious resort suites for staterooms on the Lido deck.
“The issues of recent years have probably accentuated what was already our biggest challenge and will continue to be our biggest challenge for the foreseeable future,” concedes Goldstein, who is quick to note that the industry as a whole has banded together to address the reputational challenges passenger safety crises pose. Chief among those efforts was the rollup of some 10 regional industry associations into the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA).
CLIA members have since committed to a slew of safety-related policies, as well as the Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights, which details specific measures members will take to ensure passenger health, safety and comfort. “CLIA has become a truly global spokesperson for the industry, which has been very beneficial, particularly in advancing new policies that take an already enviable safety record the industry has had over the last 50 years and moved it even more forward,” says Goldstein, a cruise line veteran who joined Royal Caribbean in 1988. “There is no such thing as perfect safety; there is perfect dedication to safety, and we must remain committed to that. Over time, that [goal] will enable us to minimize the number of adverse incidents; and, when they do occur, make the handling of the event—and therefore coverage of the event—as benign as possible.”