Cruise industry poised for stellar 2011

Cruise industry officials, travel agents and an industry trade organization believe 2011 will be the best year on record for cruise lines and their passengers despite a slow rebounding global economy. Regent Seven Seas Navigator is shown here recently departing from Sydney, Australia. Image courtesy Brian O’Brien

By Michael Coleman

Twenty five of the world’s top cruise lines, all members of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), are poised for a record-setting year in 2011.

A December survey of CLIA member travel agents found that 2010 was stronger than 2009 and that 93.6 percent are optimistic about travel sales in 2011 and beyond. Eighty-six percent of agents anticipate cruise booking increases in 2011. Eighty-five percent expect the 2011 Wave Season (the top cruise selling months of the year between January – March) to surpass last year by 16 percent on average. Agents also predict that cruises will outperform other types of travel in 2011 and in the coming years.

Driving the industry’s enthusiasm is the expected impact of 14 new ships in the CLIA member line fleet, continued diversification of global itineraries and new shipboard experiences, and the knowledge that, according to consumers’ perceptions, cruising offers exceptional value. In the December survey, agents reported that cruising has earned the #1 ranking in consumer interest compared to other types of travel largely because of perceived value, past cruise experience, price and excitement generated by new ships.

When final figures are tallied, CLIA expects to report that member lines, 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 guests, or 11.68 million, coming from North America, and 27 percent, or 4.32 million, sourced internationally.

Since 1980, the average annual passenger growth rate for CLIA member lines has been more than 7.5 percent. 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. Between 2011 and 2012, an additional 22 ships are on order, including 14 in 2011, among them:

– Carnival Cruise Lines’ Carnival Magic (3,652 passengers)
– Costa Cruises’ Favalosa (3,502 passengers)
– Celebrity Cruises’ Silhouette (2,850 passengers)
– Disney Cruise Line’s Dream (4,000 passengers)
– Oceania Cruises’ Marina (1,250 passengers)
– Seabourn Cruise Line’s Quest (450 passengers)
– Pearl Seas Cruises’ Pearl Mist (210 passengers)
– Avalon Waterways’ Panorama (166 passengers)
– AMA Waterways’ Amalotus (124 passengers), Amaverde (162 passengers), Amakaterina (212 passengers)
– Uniworld Grand Boutique River Cruises’ Douro Spirit (128 passengers), SS Antoinette (164 passengers) and River Victoria (206 passengers)

In late December, CLIA surveyed its cruise line members to determine 2011 trends and compared them to the predictions made by member travel agents. Both groups agreed that among the “hot” destinations of 2011 will be all regions of Europe, including European rivers, which are currently enjoying increasing consumer interest through a new CLIA product category, river cruising; the Caribbean, South America, Asia, and the Pacific. 

Other trends reported by the cruise lines include:

– Globalization of itineraries, including shorter cruises in Europe and elsewhere.

– Increased choice in dining experiences, with more specialty restaurants, guests chefs and local sourcing of food.

– Continued evolution of onboard spas, including top-branded spa partners.

– A focus on personalized cruise experiences both onboard and on shore, with private or exclusive shore excursions, activities targeting specific demographics, including families, children, sports, active vacationers and special interest itineraries and programs.

– Strong interest in theme cruises, particularly food and wine, music, culture and art.

– Passenger growth among baby boomers, families/multigenerational groups, first time cruisers and corporate/meeting groups.

CLIA is North America’s largest cruise industry organization. It represents the interests of 25 member lines and participates in the regulatory and policy development process while supporting measures that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment. CLIA is also engaged in travel agent training, research and marketing communications to promote the value and desirability of cruise vacations and counts as members 16,000 travel agencies and agents.

Princess eyes Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific

The 2,670-passenger Sapphire Princess is but one of several Princess Cruises’ ships headed to Hawaii, Tahiti and South Pacific voyages in 2011 and 2012. Image courtesy Princess Cruises

By Michael Coleman

Princess Cruises has just unveiled a series of 2011-2012 itineraries to Hawaii, Tahiti and the South Pacific.

Sun, sand, swaying palm trees, the scent of topical flowers in the air and breathtaking island scenery set the stage as the line offers 43 sailings of 10 itineraries to 33 ports. Voyages run from September 2011 through May 2012.

Cruise passengers will find that each of these island destinations has its own charms. In Hawaii they’ll enjoy the spirit of Aloha throughout the island chain, while Tahiti and the other islands of French Polynesia showcase a unique mix of South Seas appeal and French culture.

Samoa, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu each offer their own style and island allure, and all feature the stunning vistas found throughout the South Pacific.
 
Travelers interested in the convenience of a roundtrip voyage from Los Angeles can choose to sail aboard Golden Princess or Sapphire Princess to the Hawaiian Islands or on a new 28-day Hawaii, Tahiti & South Pacific cruise aboard Sapphire Princess.

Cruisers to Tahiti will enjoy the small ship ambiance of Ocean Princess on several itineraries, and Princess’ Aussie-style sailings from Down Under feature Sun Princess, Dawn Princess and Sea Princess sailing roundtrip from Sydney or Brisbane.
 
The Hawaiian Islands each have their own personality. On Oahu, the state capital of Honolulu offers a wealth of historic, cultural and scenic attractions, including famous Waikiki Beach, America’s only royal residence the Iolani Palace, and Pearl Harbor. The Big Island, the youngest and largest of the Hawaiian Islands, has the most varied in landscape — with striking black sand beaches, tropical rain forests, and the famed Volcanoes National Park, home to three volcanoes, including the actively erupting Kilauea.
 
Known as the “Garden Isle,” Kauai offers lush green valleys, cascading waterfalls and geological wonders, such as the dramatic Nã Pali Coastline, and spectacular Waimea Canyon. The second largest of the Hawaiian Islands, Maui boasts some of the world’s most superb beaches and dramatic mountain landscapes. Visitors can also explore the port town of Lahaina which was once King Kamehameha’s capital. 
 
Made up of more than 130 islands, French Polynesia includes some of the most dreamed about South Seas islands, such as Tahiti and Bora Bora. This is the South Pacific of Melville, Gauguin and Michener. Particularly immortalized by Gauguin’s paintings, Tahiti evokes exotic island images and the South Seas state of mind. Nearby Moorea boast precipitous mountains that reach for the sky, creating picture postcard views. And, no name captures the imagination of paradise as well as Bora Bora.  Perhaps the most stunning island in the South Pacific, its majestic landscape was sculpted by ancient volcanoes, showcasing a shimmering lagoon and barrier reef. Passengers on Ocean Princess’ 10-day Tahiti & Polynesia itinerary will enjoy a two-day experience in Bora Bora with extra time to enjoy the island’s charms.
 
The two islands of Huahine are surrounded by a deep lagoon encircled by a coral necklace. Connected by a bridge, both islands boast white-sand beaches, vanilla and banana plantations, and some of Polynesia’s most significant cultural sites. The largest atoll in French Polynesia, divers from all over the world flock to Rangiroa, to explore the undersea world of its 42-mile aquamarine lagoon filled with unique marine life and magnificent underwater scenery.
 
Samoa and American Samoa lie at the heart of the South Pacific. Pago Pago is the capital of American Samoa, the southernmost territory of the United States. Here abundant rain creates a lush green landscape marked by ancient volcanoes and thriving coral atolls.  Apia, the main township of Samoa, personifies the fa’a Samoa (the Samoan Way), and conjures up images of the perfect South Seas island town.
 
On the web — www.princess.com

Cunard announces 2010-2011 sailings for Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria

Cunard has announced the Europe, Transatlantics and Americas 2010-2011 itineraries for Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria. Reservations will be open for booking this Friday, April 17. Continue reading “Cunard announces 2010-2011 sailings for Queen Mary 2 and Queen Victoria”