Correction: Cruise Conference story
Cahill spoke as part of a panel and was not available for questions after. Carnival declined a request for an interview with him.
Future trends and globalization were also topics discussed by the cruise executives, who focused on looking east to China.
"Chinese customers love their cruises just like everybody else does," said Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International. "The people in the market have the same desires to see the world that everybody else has and now have the ability to do that."
The biggest opportunity for cruise lines, he added, is the millions of people who "are entering the middle class" in different parts of Asia.
The Caribbean is still a top destination for cruise travelers, but industry experts say that may soon change with major ports across Asia and Europe serving as top cruise destinations.
"I'm not sure that the Caribbean destinations truly appreciate the nature of this competition on a global basis and how much else is happening in the world that is claiming attention of potential cruisers," Goldstein said. "That's the competitive set and the Caribbean and other regions need to get at some level responsive to that."
Industry watchers agree, saying the Chinese cruise traveler will change the way we see cruising today.
"I think it's still five years away, 10 years away before the Chinese really start to love to cruise," said Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor of the CruiseCritic.com website.
She noted that preferences will differ across cultures as well: "It's exciting but also scary because because they love casinos but don't want long, gourmet dinners," a contrast with Western cruisers. Chinese cruise travelers are also showing an interest in short shore excursions, she said, but they are not joining sunbathers out on the sun deck, "which is great for (other) people who can't get sun deck chairs on prime time."
The conference began on Monday and runs through Thursday. It's expected to attract more than 10,000 people in the industry.
Follow Suzette Laboy on Twitter at: http://Twitter.com/SuzetteLaboy
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