WLCL CRUISE SUMMIT 2018: The updates, the goss & the crooning

The World Leading Cruise Lines (WLCL) ‘Next Wave’ Summit has wrapped for another two years after its palatial floating venue, Majestic Princess docked in Sydney on Sunday morning.

The World Leading Cruise Lines (WLCL) ‘Next Wave’ Summit has wrapped for another two years after its palatial floating venue, Majestic Princess docked in Sydney on Sunday morning.

The 2018 WLCL Summit saw 300 Australian, and Kiwi cruise agents, wholesalers and global cruise leaders meet in Auckland before boarding Princess Cruises newest ship, Majestic Princess for a four-day conference cruise back to Sydney from 14-18 November.

In what was a series of innovative firsts; it was the first time the Summit had been held out of Australia, the first four day Summit and the first time the Summit had included a port of call.

Tendering offshore at the Bay of Islands from the Majestic Princess

Locals welcome, Waitangi

After dropping anchor at the Bay of Islands for a day of Maori cultural connections, adventures and of course some NZ food and wine quaffing (It’d have been rude not to), the cruise contingent sailed off into the sunset and got down to work, with two days of presentations, networking and plenty of laughs along the way.

Jessica Rowe

Jessica Rowe

The event was emceed by first-time colourful cruiser, author and TV presenter Jessica Rowe (A cruise convert by the end of the Summit) and was joined by the hilarious and outrageously talented Tom Thum who beatboxed us into a foot-tapping frenzy throughout the conference.

So what happened? Here’s the download.



After a hilarious Tom Thum led ensemble performance on stage that featured WLCL leaders (Aka The Deep Blue CEO’s) adding their own ‘sounds’ to make up a truly impressive mash-up (you really had to be there), it was down to the business of cruise.

Sture Myrmell (President Carnival AUS & NZ and P&O Cruises Australia) opened the Summit and framed the current cruise market with a solid message around the importance of sustainability within the industry and WLCL’s many initiatives including their excellent award-winning YuMi projects in the South Pacific.

Jan Swartz & Sture Myrmell

Jan Swartz (Group President, Princess Cruises and Carnival AUS & NZ) presented her commercial take on the cruise world, sharing the astounding fact that Travel Agency partners earned half a billion dollars in commission in the last five years from the Carnival Corporation.

But did you know that despite those impressive commission earnings, 95% of Aussies still haven’t cruised?

If that’s not an opportunity, I don’t know what is.

The Carnival Funrise team

The big announcements then came thick and fast with the Carnival ‘FUNRISE’ team hilariously announcing the arrival and year-round sailing of Carnival Splendor in Dec 2019 as well as Carnival Spirit moving home to port in Brisbane in 2020. “Ship just got real” indeed.

The cheers got even louder when those cheeky funsters shared the news that invited agents will be going on a one-night shakedown cruise on Splendor out of Sydney in Dec 2019. Ask your BDM about that RIGHT NOW!

Who’s that? Gordon Ho, (Princess Cruises CMO and Head of Sales) adds some flavour to his presentation

Princess upped the ante by adding 40% more capacity out of Sydney with the exciting news that Regal Princess will be joining her sister ship Majestic Princess in 2019 sailing out of Sydney. And (drools) the new Princess Sky Suites. Cue even more giddy excitement.

Seabourn hushedly told us that their two new 264 luxe passenger carrying Expedition ships (Scheduled for 2021 and 22) would feature submarines and helicopters while smooth Orlando Ashford (President Holland America) gave an inspirational keynote on the importance of “talentism” and navigating a changing workforce.

Orlando Ashford (President Holland America)

And then later that night (actually every night at Summit) ’Crooners’ piano bar was the place to be with a packed to the rafters sing-along of the likes that Frank Sinatra or Jimmy Barnes would have been proud.

Princess Cruises Australia’s Stuart Allison’s rendition of Oasis’ ‘Wonderwall’ brought the house down while Princess Cruises National Sales Manager Brett Wendorf’s ‘Ring of fire’ stoked up a variety of emotions. Rumour has it that Crooners had its biggest bar take to date on the night with tray laden waiters working overtime to ‘re-charge’ the newfound Summit choir’s voice boxes.



Team Cunard

Tom Thum dusted off the Crooner cobwebs by performing more beatboxing genius to wake everyone up, before National Account Manager for Cunard, Andrew Perry had us in raptures with his tap dancing and singing talents to present Cunard in its very best, sophisticated light.

Some stunning Majestic Princess entertainment followed with a few snippets from the ships onboard show ‘Fantastic Journey’ before we heard from Tourism New Zealand and how “Kia ora” means so much more than just “hello”.

Orlando Ashford (President Holland America) returned to the stage to update us on a transformed Holland America and the news that the Oprah Winfrey Partnership is set to continue. Oprah had already been named the Godmother of the Nieuw Statendam ship and will host a ‘girls only’ cruise in January 2019 that sold out in 11 minutes.

P&O revved up the crowd with a hilarious ‘Sail of the Summit’ skit featuring three agents pitting their wits against a very sparkly and quick-witted Ryan Taibel (P&O Vice President Sales and Marketing) and his sassy sidekick to answer a range of P&O questions. No-one really knows who won, but someone took home a vacuum cleaner from the 1980’s.

BTW – Did you know that one million Aussies have now cruised with P&O since 2011? Our love affair with the brand continues.

Sail of the Summit…

After a Q&A panel where Carnival leaders answered agents hot topics, it was time to relax before the farewell party and official Summit closing later that afternoon.

A croaky voiced (you can thank Crooners for that) Sture Myrmell led the richly deserved thank you’s with the Captain of the Ship, Dino Sagani emotionally sharing his heartfelt story of when he found out his own mother had been named the godmother of Majestic Princess.

Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani

Majestic Princess Captain Dino Sagani

The ever energising Jennifer Vandekreeke (Vice President Carnival Cruise Line Australia and NZ) joined Tom Thum to perform an epic duet of the Fugees “killing me softly”, and a hearty crew of the brand BDM’s got together to sing out their respective WLCL brands as part of another Tom Thum mash up.

The cocktails flowed and the smiles widened…

All up, the vibe and mood was an extremely happy one with the Summit proving another overwhelming success that positively represented the ‘Next Wave’ of cruising, and not just for the WLCL brands, but for the sustainable future of the cruise industry in general.

Congratulations to all the agents and wholesalers who attended, to everyone at WLCL and particularly the entire crew of Majestic Princess for making it so memorable.


Were you at Summit? Share your experience with us below.