Survey Said: Cruise industry enjoyed stellar 2010

Despite tough economic times and a sluggish economy the cruise industry performed admirably in 2010, according to a recent survey. ~Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The cruise industry contributes significantly to the U.S. economy and Americans are not only increasingly aware of cruise vacations but strongly interested in either a repeat cruise or trying one for the first time, according to a recent survey.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), a non-profit umbrella organization representing the interests of 26 of the world’s top cruise lines, commissioned the independent study.

They found that the industry generated 329,943 jobs that contributed a $15.2 billion wage impact on the U.S. economy in 2010, a 5.1 percent increase in employment and a 7.0 percent rise in wages over 2009. The total cruise industry economic impact in the U.S. in 2010 was $37.85 billion of gross output, a 7.8 percent increase over last year.

State by state, the cruise industry’s economic impact varied according to the scope of cruise line operations, with the major benefactors being those states with ports of embarkation.

In Florida, which accounts for 60 percent of all U.S. embarkations, the industry generated $6.3 billion in direct spending which helped create 123,255 jobs paying $5.4 billion in income. California, with 10 percent of the cruise industry’s direct expenditures, was the beneficiary of $1.8 billion in spending and 41,697 jobs. New York, with a 32 percent increase in passengers and crew visits in 2010, accounted for 6.7 percent of direct expenditures, with the industry generating $1.2 billion in spending and creating 14,833 jobs. Texas, with a 31 percent increase for last year, generated $1.1 billion in spending and 16,457 jobs.

Florida’s pre-eminent position is largely due to its five cruise ports: Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, Tampa, and Jacksonville. Florida led a list of 15 ports of embarkation that account for 90.7 percent of total U.S. embarkations. In order, according to the survey, the top 10 ports are Miami, Port Everglades, Port Canaveral, New York, Seattle, Galveston, Long Beach, Tampa, Los Angeles, New Orleans. There were 9,694,000 U.S. embarkations during 2010.

Florida’s five cruise ports handled 5.8 million embarkations, accounting for nearly 60 percent of all U.S. cruise embarkations. The state also led the country in resident cruise passengers: 2.9 million Florida residents, 29 per cent of all U.S. resident passengers, took a cruise last year from one of its ports.

The study revealed that CLIA member lines carried a grand total of 14.8 million U.S. and non-U.S. passengers in 2010, an increase of 10.3 percent, the largest year-over-year jump since 2003.
CLIA also reported that 73 million Americans have cruised before and that 36 million Americans (25 years+, $40K+ income) have an intention to cruise in the next three years, up from 33 million in the 2008 study and 31 million in 2006.

Seventy-seven percent of past cruise vacationers expressed interest in a cruise vacation in the next three years and 50 percent of non-cruise vacationers expressed an interest in taking their first cruise within the next three years.

Consistent with previous years’ studies, CLIA found that a significant majority of consumers — 94 percent – rate cruising as a satisfying vacation experience with 45 percent rating a cruise as “extremely satisfying,” making a cruise vacation a satisfaction leader among vacation choices.

The survey also revealed where consumers plan to take their next cruise. The Caribbean, Alaska, Bahamas, Hawaii, Bermuda, Mediterranean/Greek Isles, Europe, Panama Canal, Canada/New England and Mexico are among the top 10 cruise destinations in the world.

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.

Demand for luxury cruises on the rise

Consumer demand for luxury cruise travel and river boat cruising is on the rise according to a nation-wide survey of travel agents.
Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Despite lingering economic woes and belt-tightening across the nation, demand for luxury and river cruises is actually growing according to a recent survey of travel agents.

Conducted by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) – North America’s largest cruise industry organization representing 25 member lines and 16,000 travel agencies — the survey reveals that agents are observing an upswing in luxury and river cruise travel.

Some 36.5 percent report increasing demand for river cruises (34 percent say the demand is unchanged) while 64 percent indicate increased awareness for river cruising among their clients. Almost a quarter of agents, 22.2 percent, report a move toward luxury.

Travel agents agree that destination is a top motivator: 86.9 percent rank destination and itinerary at the top of the list for river cruisers, followed by authentic experiences in small towns and destinations; incorporated land programs and sightseeing; shipboard service and lifestyle, the all-inclusivity of the product and perceived value. For luxury cruisers, shipboard service and lifestyle and destination (78.3 percent and 58.3 percent respectively) are the prime motivators.

Among popular destinations, agents agree that Europe currently stands alone. Of those responding, 97.8 percent of river cruise sellers rank Europe at the top, followed by China, Russia. Europe and the Mediterranean. World cruises, Europe, the South Pacific and Asia rank highest in interest among a long list of choices for luxury cruisers.

Agents identify couples and affinity or social groups as growing markets for both river and luxury cruising (with the “retired/senior” maintaining the Number One position).

Why do clients choose to cruise over other types of vacations? In order of importance, according to agents surveyed, river cruise customers choose: authentic experiences in smaller towns and villages, smaller ships and intimate ambience, travel to multiple destinations, convenience, product inclusivity, shore excursions and value. Luxury cruisers cite quality of service, cuisine, smaller ships, value, destinations, and inclusivity.

In the survey, luxury cruises stacked up positively against the best restaurants in the world (75 percent similar to much better); the best hospitality service standards (94 percent); the most luxurious accommodations (75 percent); the most upscale spas (86 percent); and the most exciting cultural/enrichment/entertainment activities available (86 percent).

The survey also revealed that pre-and post-cruise programs are especially popular with the majority of river cruisers, with over 70 percent most likely to add a land stay on to their river voyage; the most popular length of luxury and river cruises is eight to 14 days, followed by seven day cruises; luxury cruisers also are demanding greater value and are more price sensitive, with higher expectations for quality of service; consumer incentives and promotions have made luxury cruising more affordable

Whatever their affluence status, both luxury cruisers and river cruise enthusiasts respond to “deals”: 85.7 percent of agents say river cruise clients are somewhat or much more apt to make a purchase with a special offer; 79.6 percent say luxury clients are similarly motivated.

On the web: cruising.org

Special deals offered for ‘World’s Largest Cruise Night’

Most cruise lines are offering some sort of special deal for the World's Largest Cruise Night on Oct. 13. Some offers are only good for deals booked that day and some last a bit longer. Pick your ship, see what sort of deal you can get and plan your next getaway. Photo by Matt Roseboom

By Jackie Roseboom

The Cruise Lines International Association is holding a special World’s Largest Cruise Night this Oct. 13. Travel agents across North America will be hosting a special events in partnership with several cruise lines. Some amazing deals are being offered. As the event gets closer, more deals will be offered. Here are the ones already showing up:

Carnival is enticing vacationers with cruise upgrades on virtually all “Fun Ship” departures through December 2011. To sweeten the deal, Carnival will offer up to a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for all Carnival Magic Europe voyages booked on Oct. 13. The Carnival Magic Europe offer includes best available upgrades and a $100 onboard credit per stateroom for seven-day Europe sailings and a $200 onboard credit per stateroom for nine- and 12-day sailings.

Celebrity is hosting a three-day sale beginning Oct. 13 for sailings departing April through December 2011 for select seven- to 14-night sailings. Look for onboard credits of $50 per stateroom for oceanview accommodations; $100 per stateroom for veranda accommodations; and $150 per stateroom for AquaClass (only on Solstice-class ships), suites, and Concierge Class.

Costa is offering a $50 onboard credit per stateroom on any sailing. The offer is valid only on Oct. 13.

Crystal Cruises is offering a $100 per person additional savings incentive on most 2010-2011 departures for new bookings made from Oct. 1 to 31.

Cunard is offering an onboard credit (per stateroom) of up to $300 for Queens & Princess Grill accommodation; up to $200 for Balcony staterooms; and up to $100 for Oceanview/Inside staterooms, depending on length of voyage. Bookings made during the Cruise Sale will receive a waiver of the deposit on the second guest.

Holland America Line is offering shipboard credits that can be combined with group amenities or cruise night offers. Plus deposits are only $100 per person for cruises of seven to 36 days.

For booking between Oct. 13 to 27, MSC will offer exclusive shipboard credits, such as $25 per passenger for inside cabin/oceanview bookings; $50 per passenger for standard balcony/superior balcony accommodations; and $100 per passenger for suites bookings.

Oceania Cruises is celebrating its maiden season in Alaska with two-for-one cruise fares, plus free round-trip air and bonus savings up to $1,000 per stateroom.

Regent Seven Seas Cruises is offering a $100 per person ($200 per suite) shipboard credit booking incentive. This offer is valid for any new reservation on a 2010 or 2011 departure of seven nights or longer booked between Oct. 1 and Nov. 15.

Silversea Cruises is offering a $100 per guest ($200 per suite) savings on any 2010, 2011 or 2012 cruise booked during the month of October.

Windstar is offering a $100 per person shipboard credit on any Wind Spirit, Wind Star or Wind Surf sailing in the Caribbean or Costa Rica between Jan. 2 and April 2, 2011. The offer is valid for new bookings made between Oct. 13 and Nov. 15, and the credits may be combined with all nationwide offers including two-for-one offers.

On the Web: visit cruising.org for more information or check with a CLIA-member travel agent.

Cruise Guide: You deserve to save money on a cruise

By Matt Roseboom

cruiseguideheadersmallYour alarm clock goes off early. You’re late to work and get reprimanded by your boss, who makes you work late, which makes you get home late, which makes your spouse and kids unhappy. This chain reaction won’t happen every day, but just one of these things may make you think to yourself, “I deserve a cruise.”

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) agrees and it’s teamed up with its cruise line members for the “You Deserve a Cruise” promotion. Most of the top cruise lines are offering special limited-time deals. Here’s a sampling: Continue reading “Cruise Guide: You deserve to save money on a cruise”

Cruise organization releases statement on swine flu

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released the following statement regarding global concerns of the Swine Flu and the CDC’s April 27, 2009 Traveler’s Health Alert Notice. Continue reading “Cruise organization releases statement on swine flu”