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.

Summit pegged for stylish makeover

By Michael Coleman

Celebrity Cruises’ 2,034-passenger Summit will begin 2012 with a bold new look having incorporated some of the most popular attributes found on the line’s newer ships.

Since 2008 the Celebrity fleet has expanded to 10 vessels with the addition of the much-heralded Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox. Now, fleet-mates like the 2001-built Summit will receive Solstice, Eclipse and Equinox-inspired makeovers.

Among the highlights: the coveted AquaClass, Celebrity’s soothing, spa-inspired veranda-category accommodations paired with the chic, Mediterranean-themed specialty restaurant “Blu’’; plus the addition of Qsine specialty restaurant and the hip Celebrity iLounge.

Celebrity has just completed a similar makeover on Constellation and will do so on Infinity later this year.

 “Based on the phenomenal response we’ve had from guests who have sailed on the Constellation, we’re eager to introduce the same new features — ranging from the Cellarmasters wine bar to our signature icy Martini Bar to our cool Café al Bacio and Gelateria,’’ said Celebrity’s President & CEO Dan Hanrahan.

“We recognize that consumers’ vacation time is precious, which inspires us to do everything we can to make their vacation with Celebrity Cruises something that is truly different and better than anything they’ve experienced before.”
            


A Celebrity exclusive, Qsine, the novel restaurant introduced on Eclipse last year, and set to debut on Infinity, will be added to Summit. It’s the first restaurant at sea to present a menu and wine list on an iPad. Qsine features a selection of savory tapas and mezze served individually in custom-made frames, a trio of chilled soups delivered shot-style, and spring rolls served in springs. All are described in detail on the iPad-housed menu and wine list, which offers a full scan of wine labels, an interactive cocktail menu, and the ability for guests to enter tasting notes and e-mail their favorite wine selections.

Look for Summit to feature the Celebrity iLounge, the cruise industry’s first authorized Apple reseller, where guests can participate in Celebrity’s “iLearn” enrichment series; a new creperie, Bistro on Five; new verandas added to the ship’s spacious, luxurious Celebrity Suites.

The ship will receive new furniture, flat-screen TVs, upholstery, bedding and carpeting; look also for new oceanview and inside staterooms and an expanded collection of original, contemporary art.

Celebrity sails to Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Bermuda, California, Canada/New England, the Caribbean, Europe, Hawaii, the Pacific Coast, Panama Canal, South America, and year-round in the Galapagos Islands. The line also offers immersive cruisetour experiences in Alaska, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Europe and South America.

Two new innovative ships, Silhouette in July 2011, and Reflection in fall 2012, will round out the fleet.

Stars to shine aboard Regent Voyager

Regent Seven Seas Voyager embarks on a 162-night world cruise later this month and will feature a star-studded line-up of enrichment lecturers. Image courtesy Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

Regent Seven Seas Cruises has announced its line-up of star-studded luminaries to be featured on the line’s 2011 world cruise aboard the 700-guest Seven Seas Voyager — an award-winning, all-suite, all-balcony, ultra-luxury vessel.

The 162-night odyssey departs Fort Lauderdale this month and will complete its global adventure on June 7, 2011, in London. The featured luminaries will present lectures, classes and workshops to offer guests fresh perspective and insights.

Experts and award-winning luminaries include:

– Jim Nantz — Feb. 23 – 29: Emmy award-winning sports personality and five-time National Sportscaster of the Year. He will be available to discuss some of his favorite play-by-play moments throughout his 25-year sportscasting career.

– Rita Moreno — Feb. 23-March 12: One of only 10 performers who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony Award; she will entertain with a special musical performance and speak about her life and career.

– Morton Dean — March 29-April 13: Emmy Award-winning correspondent; one of the best known, most highly regarded and widely traveled newsmen in his profession. During his 14 years with ABC News and 20 years with CBS News, he covered many historic, headline-making stories around the world including presidential campaigns, Papal visits and the civil rights struggle.

– Alan Thicke — April 28-May 4: Known best as psychiatrist and father, Jason Seaver, from ABC’s “Growing Pains.” Thicke has earned a “Best Actor” Golden Globe nomination and seven Emmy Award nominations (five for writing and two for acting).

– Charles Cook — May 4-24: Widely regarded as one of the United States’ leading authorities on U.S. elections and political trends, Charlie has appeared on the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news programs, as well as on “Good Morning America,” the “Today Show,” “Nightline,” “Meet the Press with Tim Russert,” and “This Week….” He has also appeared many times on CNBC, MSNBC, CNN, C-SPAN and National Public Radio.

– Jeff Greenberg — May 4-24: Emmy-Award winning casting director for the hit comedy Modern Family after having guided the casting chores for such other iconic shows such as Frasier and Cheers. Other television credits include Ugly Betty, Wings, My So-Called Life, NewsRadio and dozens of others. His feature credits include A Night at the Roxbury, Father of the Bride 2, Look Who’s Talking and Die Mommie Die!

– Dr. Michael Leeden — May 4-24: the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Leeden is also a contributing editor at National Review Online. Previously, he served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.

– Jacki Lyden — May 4-24: Acclaimed journalist, author and radio host, Jacki Lyden can currently be heard on the weekend broadcasts of National Public Radio’s All Things Considered. Formerly NPR’s London correspondent, Lyden has covered the Gulf War from Baghdad, Iraq and has reported from Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, and other countries.

– Ari Shapiro — May 4-24: NPR’s award-winning White House correspondent, Shapiro reports for all of NPR’ s newsmagazines, including Morning Edition and All Things Considered. Based in Washington, D.C. He has received the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award, the Daniel Schorr Journalism Prize and a “laurel” for excellent reporting from the Columbia Journalism Review.

– Jack Hanna — May 14-24: Recognized around the country as America’s favorite zookeeper and author of 10 books. He will be available to share his “hands on” approach to wildlife conservation and his lifetime of travel experiences.

When the ship visits San Francisco on Jan. 13, 2011 full world cruise guests will be entertained by legendary performers Norm Crosby – he’s been making audiences laugh and a crowd favorite since his days from “The Ed Sullivan Show” — and Joel Grey, best known for his role as the Master of Ceremonies in the Broadway musical “Cabaret,” in which he earned an Academy Award for the film version.

In addition to the headliners, the world cruise will feature a variety of enrichment lecturers, arts & crafts workshops, ACBL-certified bridge masters, gentlemen social hosts and dance instructors.

Regent is the world’s only cruise line that includes award-winning service, acclaimed cuisine, premium spirits and fine wine, gratuities, hotel packages and sightseeing excursions in every port.

On the web: rssc.com

Ship Review: World’s largest cruise ship, Allure of the Seas makes her debut

You can really tell the size of Allure of the Seas when you're on the pool deck. Central Park area runs down the middle of the ship. Photos by Matt Roseboom

Royal Caribbean’s newest ship has launched. The Allure of the Seas is being dubbed an “Entertainment Ship”. There are so many things to do onboard, it’s hard to know where to start.

Click Here to read the full review.

Review: Celebrity Eclipse makes her North American debut

One unique feature on the Celebrity Eclipse and other Solstice class ships, is the real grass lawn. This is a great place to relax or play some lawn games. Photos by Matt Roseboom

The Celebrity Eclipse had a bumpy start when its inaugural was interrupted by the ashes from a volcano last April. She even rescued some stranded British travelers during the time she was supposed to be making her grand debut. The ship has been sailing in Europe since then, but its now arrived on Florida’s shore.

Click Here to read the full review.

Princess blog features ultimate travel wish list

Will Greece and its famed Acropolis become one of the world’s 50 essential travel experiences on a new Princess Cruises’ blog? Photo by Michael Coleman

By Michael Coleman

The world’s top destinations will be unveiled weekly in an inspiring new blog launched by the travel savvy employees of Princess Cruises.

The line launched “50 Essential Experiences: The Travel Bucket List” (50essentialexperiences.com) this week. A series of posts, each authored by one of Princess’ longest-serving shipboard and shoreside employees, will be added weekly.
 
The 50 selected experts — each who have been with the company for more than 15 years and traveled thousands of sea and air miles visiting hundreds of countries, cities and sites — will share one of their inspiring personal experiences chronicling their unique perspective of must-see travel spots around the globe. 
 
“Few people have seen more of the world than Princess’ own destination experts,” said Jan Swartz, executive vice president for Princess Cruises. “And because they’ve been to so many destinations, they’re often asked to recommend those ‘don’t miss’ experiences that people should be sure to put on their travel bucket list.” Swartz emphasized that the blog is not just a list of places, but instead a list of experiences Princess hopes inspires others. 
 
The experts featured in the blog will represent an array of departments and positions within Princess, including those in shoreside positions such as itinerary planning, ship operations and marketing, along with those who sail aboard its ships such as captains, hotel managers and cruise directors. Their posts will gradually be revealed through September 2011.
 
Crystal Morgan, director of market planning for Princess, authored the first blog post. She started her cruise career as an onboard shore excursion manager sailing to worldwide destinations and, after moving shoreside, now oversees itinerary planning for the line’s fleet of ships. Morgan shares one of her most memorable travel experiences, when she traced her grandmother’s footsteps to visit the famous Christ the Redeemer statue, the most celebrated monument in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a place that held a special meaning for her grandmother who had visited the site some 70 years earlier.
 
In her post she writes, “I didn’t hear about my grandmother’s visit to this famous statue until I told her that I was being deployed to South America aboard Pacific Princess. It dawned on me that I would have the opportunity to trace her footsteps to this world-renowned landmark so many decades after her visit. Our circumstances could hardly be more different.  She was barely a teenager on her journey up the mountain, traveling with her family, including several younger siblings for whom she cared. I would have charges of my own, but not children.”
 
Blog visitors will be encouraged to share their own personal travel experiences, some of which will be showcased on the site each week.
 
All of the destinations described in the blog will be ones that passengers can travel to aboard a Princess ship, and links will help readers discover how they, too, can embark on similar adventures.
 
Arguably one of cruise travel’s greatest brand names, Princess operates a fleet of 17 modern ships known for their innovative design and array of choices in dining, entertainment and amenities. The line offers global voyages from seven to 107 days in length.

On the web: princesscruises.com

Alluring restaurants to debut at sea

Allure of the Seas, presently under construction, will debut in December. An architectural marvel, the 225,282 ton ship will span 16 decks, carry 5,400 passengers at double occupancy in some 2,700 staterooms. She will also feature 24 onboard dining opportunities morning, noon and night. The vessel will offer Caribbean sailings from her home port in Fort Lauderdale. Image courtesy Royal Caribbean

By Michael Coleman

Royal Caribbean’s latest ship — Allure of the Seas — will debut in December complete with 24 onboard dining venues to cater to any craving.

A sister ship to Oasis of the Seas, both vessels tip the scales as the largest and perhaps most innovative cruise ships afloat. And while each ship has a host of similarities, even in the dining arena, Allure is poised to roll out some added culinary options.

From a Brazilian steakhouse and a Mexican beach bar to a hot dog stand, the choices abound.
The Brazilian steakhouse will be a destination restaurant that comes to life for dinner service in the Solarium, featuring authentic Brazilian-style meats and seafood dishes, from Picanha cut sirloin steak to Atlantic salmon marinated with sea salt and garlic, served table-side and sliced straight off the skewer.

“As churrascaria concept restaurants gain popularity on land, Royal Caribbean is taking advantage of having a new ship to introduce a Brazilian steakhouse and bring a new dynamic and colorful nightlife ambiance for adults in the Solarium,” said Lisa Bauer, senior vice president, Hotel Operations, Royal Caribbean International.

“Guests onboard Allure of the Seas will have a new arrangement of dining experiences throughout the ship, from the Adagio Main Dining Room to new venues on the Boardwalk and Royal Promenade.”

Combining the best of classic Mexican beach bars and Southern California’s famed taquerias, Rita’s Cantina will be a vibrant new restaurant in the Boardwalk neighborhood. Adults and kids alike will enjoy some of their favorite Mexican fare, such as shrimp ceviche tostadas, warm tortilla chips with salsa and fiesta guacamole, as well as entrées such as fajitas, fish tacos and Chipotle-style flautas. The more casual setting will likely be a favorite lunch, snack or dinner spot for passengers seeking a flavorful fiesta onboard.

Rita’s also will boast some of the widest selection of margaritas at sea, offering both authentic and signature concoctions mixed with a choice from the extensive list of quality tequilas, served on the rocks or frozen in a variety of fruit-flavor combinations. In addition, the restaurant will introduce new nightlife to Boardwalk with live guitar music, drinks and dancing. 

Also new to Boardwalk’s engaging scene aboard Allure of the Seas will be The Boardwalk Dog House, an outdoor hot-dog specialty counter located where passengers can choose from traditional hot dogs, wieners, brats and sausages.

Like its sister, Allure will feature Johnny Rockets, a ‘50’s-style diner with server-entertainers; 150 Central Park, a trendy, upscale and intimate restaurant with a tasting menu and customized wine pairings; Giovanni’s Table, an Italian trattoria with both indoor and alfresco seating featuring Italian classics served family-style; Park Café, an indoor/outdoor gourmet market featuring salads, sandwiches, soups, pastries and fudge; Vintages, a wine bar with pre-dinner tapas and cheeses along with a robust selection of fine wines and, among a host of other palate pleasing onboard locales, Chops Grille, Royal Caribbean’s signature steakhouse.

On the web: royalcaribbean.com

Ship Review: NCL’s newest ship offers fun in Epic proportions

Many people pick a vacation city based on how much it has to offer. Big names like Nickelodeon and Blue Man Group that could have only been seen in places like Las Vegas and Orlando are now cruising the high seas. With all the innovations on the brand new Norwegian (NCL) Epic, it’s like you’re in a city with ever changing views.

Click Here to continue reading the NCL Epic ship review.

Carnival Legend lives up to her Fun Ship name

The Carnival Legend looks spectacular all lit-up at night, as most ships do. Photo by Matt Roseboom

The museum quality artwork on the Carnival Legend depicts legendary stories through the years, hence the ship’s name. The ship’s activities and ports will definitely keep you as busy as you want to be. Continue reading “Carnival Legend lives up to her Fun Ship name”

Ship Review: Silver Spirit offers sophisticated charm, elegance

Silver Spirit, unveiled this week in Fort Lauderdale, is currently on a 91-day Grand Inaugural Voyage exploring more than 20 countries and 45 ports throughout the Americas. Photo courtesy Silversea Cruises

It’s been almost nine years since ultra-luxury cruise operator Silversea unveiled a new ship but guests will soon agree that the wait has been worth it.

The 12-deck, 540-passenger, all-suite ship is Silversea’s first newly-constructed vessel since 2001.

Click Here to read the full review.