Some of the funkier booths? A booth in the Entertainment and Technology Pavilion was blasting rock 'n' roll tunes from Pink Floyd and Boston to showcase their laser/sound systems, while an Austrian company called Leonardo Luggage displayed vintage leather and neon suitcases. But the International Pavilion -- a large block of booths representing various tourist boards and cruise ports -- was the most creative, and, for us, the most interesting.
To vie for attention, exhibitors from A (Aalborg) to Z (Zeebrugge) tried everything from creating eye-catching displays to doling out free food and alcohol, a technique that certainly seemed successful come lunchtime! Get a glimpse into the wild world of Seatrade with some of our favorites....
Best in Show: The Caribbean booths were by far the most elaborate, but the U.S. Virgin Islands take top prize -- they had placed an actual sailing boat smack in the middle of their exhibition space! We'll also give props to Barbados, who set up shop inside a cocoon of silk screens; Jamaica, where visitors could sidle up to a tropical thatched-roof bar to talk shop; and Mexico, whose reps handed out icy bottles of Corona.
Most Intriguing New Port: Campbell River, on the eastern coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, is positioning itself as the next big Alaska cruise port with a new government-funded ship terminal. Celebrity's Mercury will call there -- the Salmon Capital of the World -- this fall on three- and four-night cruises roundtrip from Seattle.
Coolest New Attraction: Over at the Cruise Ireland booth, we found out that Waterford Crystal Visitor Centre is now offering up-close factory tours that take visitors through the five stages of the process -- blowing, cutting, quality inspection, sculpting and engraving -- with an opportunity to meet one of Waterford's four artisans in a Master's Workshop.
Best Freebies: Forget pens and mouse pads: The European area was the place to be for scouting out good-quality chocolates, and over at Mobile's booth, folks were draping colorful Mardi Gras beads around visitors' necks. Antigua was handing out hard-cover coffee table books loaded with gorgeous, full-color pictures. My luggage gained so much weight I had to pay an excess baggage fee on the flight home.
Image appears courtesy of cruiseshipping.net.