Cruise lines optimistic despite economy

For cruise lines, passenger bookings during the "wave season"—the first quarter of the year—are generally a good indicator on how well or how poor the year is going to be. A recent survey conducted by the Cruise Line International Association of its members and travel agents indicates that 2011 is going to be a record-breaking year.

The December survey conducted by Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), Fort Lauderdale, Fla., of its 25 member lines and travel agents found that 2010 was stronger than 2009 and that 93.6 percent are optimistic about travel sales in 2011 and beyond. Travel agents expect 2011 to outperform 2010, estimating that the wave season bookings will surpass last

The industry’s enthusiasm is being driven by the introduction of 14 new ships in the CLIA member line fleet, continued diversification of global itineraries and new shipboard experiences. Additionally, for the budget-conscious consumer, the all-inclusive cruise vacation still represents an excellent value.

For 2010, CLIA reports that its member lines, operating at 103 percent occupancy, carried 15 million people in 2010, including 11.1 million North Americans. The forecast for 2011 is 16 million passengers, an increase of 6.6 percent, with 73 percent of passengers, or 11.68 million, coming from North America, and 27 percent, or 4.32 million, sourced internationally.

CLIA’s executive vice president of marketing Bob Sharak said: “Despite a challenging financial climate, CLIA member lines continued to invest in the future, building new ships, offering innovative new cruise experiences, and developing increasingly diverse itineraries all over the world. As consumers recognize the unparalleled value of cruising, whether it’s a three-day voyage to the Bahamas or a world cruise, and the unique travel opportunities and experiences cruising offers, that commitment to growth is paying off.”

Disney_Dream

NEW SHIPS FOR 2011

In 2010, 12 ships representing an investment of $5.9 billion, ranging in capacity from 101 passengers to 5,400 passengers, joined the CLIA fleet. One of the 14 new ships joining the fleet in 2011 is the Disney Dream (shown at left), which was delivered by Meyer Werft, Papenburg, Germany, to Disney Cruises on December 9. The 128,000 gt Disney Dream is expected to make her maiden voyage on Jan. 26 from Port Canaveral, Fla. to the Bahamas. The 1,114 ft x 121 ft ship will have a passenger capacity of 4,000 and crew of 1,453.

The Disney Dream is scheduled to sail three-, four- and five-night cruises to the Bahamas, from Port Canaveral.  Sister ship Disney Fantasy is currently in production at the Meyer Werft shipyard and is scheduled to set sail on its maiden voyage on April 7, 2012.  It will sail seven-night alternating eastern and western Caribbean itineraries, also from Port Canaveral.

Fleet additions between 2010 and 2012 represent a net fleet capacity increase of 17.4 percent, or 51,306 beds.

January 16, 2011