Cruises buck travel industry downturn
While a sputtering recession throughout the globe took its toll on other segments of the travel industry, cruising continues to gain in popularity.
Latest figures from Cruise Line International Association — the marketing arm of the industry — show that cruising has never been more popular.
In 2010, the latest year figures are available and during the height of the downturn, cruising recorded a double-digit gain which, according to Travel Weekly, could turn other industry segments green with envy.
CLIA's cruise line members carried 14.8 million passengers in 2010, for an increase of 10.3 percent. It was the largest year-over-year increase in seven years.
And 2012 will show another large increase, according to predictions.
The total of passengers is estimated to grow to a whopping 20.3 million. Part of the increase, at least, is being attributed to a large boost in inventory, with nine ships entering service.
Additionally, a large number of new ships were launched a few years earlier just as the recession was creeping up. Cruise lines have grown phenomenally in the last 20 years, with a compounded annual growth rate of more than 7 percent.
Most other segments of the travel industry haven't come close to that figure. And cruise lines will continue to expand in the future.
More meg-ships have come on line or will this year. They include the 3,690-passenger Carnival Breeze, the 3,013-passenger MS Divine, 3,012-passenger Costa Fascinosca and the 2,500 passenger Disney Fantasy.
In 2015, eight more cruise ships will be launched. The worldwide cruise market is estimated at $34.1 billion and the new ships being launched soon will generate another $2.3 billion, analysts say.
By 2015, 22.3 million cruise passengers are expected to be carried worldwide.
It is estimated that 78 million Americans — about one in four — have taken a cruise, according to a new survey undertaken by the CLIA.
The favorite destinations?
CLIA says the Caribbean, a longtime favorite, is still No. 1, followed by Alaska, the Bahamas, Hawaii, Bermuda and the Mediterranean.
Florida: the Cruise State
Florida's five cruise ports — Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Tampa and Jacksonville — handled 5.5 million embarkations in 2010, a number that represents almost 60 percent of all cruise embarkations in the U.S.
Florida also is home to corporate or administrative offices for the top three cruise companies, which own three-fourths of the North American cruise capacity: Carnival Corp., Royal Caribbean Cruises and NCL Corp.
Carnival and Royal Caribbean are the giants of the industry, holding a combined 73 percent of the worldwide market.
Weddings big business
With thousands of couples tying the knot on cruise hips or during port calls every year, wedding packages are big business.
A Carnival Cruise Lines spokesperson told Travel Weekly that 2,400 weddings are held each year across the line's fleet. Norwegian Cruise Line typically hosts some 300 weddings a year, and the line plans to ramp up its marketing of wedding options in 2012.
Royal Caribbean International sells 800 weddings each year, and it also plans to boost marketing efforts.
There is little mystery about why the cruise lines are enthusiastic about sea nuptials, notes Travel Weekly, since the wedding cost for a group of 25 in the wedding party would total about $6,000.
This would cover a 'basic package" and add-ons. It's not counting the cost of the cruise, either.
Brede to host trip
Mayor Ardell Brede will host a tour of central Europe in September that will cover a wide array of destinations and feature several days in Moosburg, Germany, Rochester's sister city.
The relationship between the two cities has been going on for quite a few years and includes trips back and forth among high school student and adult delegations.
The 14-day trip is Sept. 15-28. The itinerary includes cities in Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria.
Some of the major cities on the itinerary include Berlin, Prague, Vienna, Salzburg and Munich, where Oktoberfest will be going on. The tour will wind up with several days in Moosburg, located near Munich.
Cost of the trip, which includes air, accommodations and most meals, is $4,099 per-person. Deposits with CETA Tours out of Menomonie, Wis., are due by May 1.
Details also are available at the mayor's office in the government center; call 328-2700.