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CLIA Report for 2009 - MSC Offers - US Cruise Ship Security Act - Bad Weather in the Channel Islands

by Mark Tre' - "The Cruise Examiner"

The Fort Lauderdale-based Cruise Lines International Association (or CLIA) last week presented its economic impact figures for 2009. Although they show a 12.8% drop in contribution to the US economy, this compares well with other industries that did worse, and signs are for a recovery during 2010. Elsewhere, MSC comes up with some interesting offers and the new US Cruise Ship law is passed, while Guernsey suffers from bad weather.


Where are We Today?

From CLIA's report it is interesting to note that back in 1970, forty years ago now, the number of people taking a cruise was reported to be 500,000. That number worldwide is now forecast to hit 14.3 million in 2011. That number should be compared to the days of mass immigration on the North Atlantic, when only something between one and two million a year travelled that ocean.

In 2008, the cruise industry's contribution to the US economy was $40.2 billion, and in 2009 it was $35.1 billion, a drop of 12.8%. However, this still outperformed the US economy as a whole and the travel and tourism sector in particular. North American lines, employees and passengers generated $35.1 billion in gross output last year, including 313,998 jobs paying $14.2 billion in wages and salaries, and direct cruise industry spend totalled $17.15 billion, according to the annual report prepared for CLIA by Business Research & Economic Advisors (BREA).

What else do we learn? The average age of cruisers is now 46, far below what some people still tend to think, and a drop from 60 over the past decade. These cruisers have an average household income of about $93,000 and today's cruisers include more multi-generational families and not so many couples as in the past.
This is confirmed when one looks at the increasing number of alternatives offered for children of all age groups these days, and is perhaps reflected as well in the number of ships that now sell themselves as "adult only" as well.

Net capacity in bed days rose 3.6% in 2009 and occupancy was 104.6% (based on double occupancy as the rule) but total gross revenues were down by 11.8%. But according to CLIA, 2012 will emerge stronger, so now may be the time to be taking advantage of any special offers.

Even though the number of US embarkation ports has been expanded over the past decade, Florida still accounts for almost 60% of US cruise embarkations, and this number grew by 3% in 2009.

US ports embarked 8.9 million passengers out of the total of 13.5 million, meaning that non-US sources now account for a third of all business, and possibly more as non-US origin cruises tend to be much longer on average. The number of passengers who cruises rose by 4.8% overall but by 8% in Europe where recent growth has been stronger.

Of the states, Alaska and Hawaii were the two losers. With the shrinking of NCL America, with just one US-flag ships now based in Honolulu, Hawaii fell out of the top ten states, dropping from number 8 to number 10. Alaska meanwhile fell from number 3 to number 5, partly as a result of its now-reduced $50 head tax. New York also suffered a loss, with an estimated 627,000 passengers and crew visiting during 2009, a 17% decline from 2008.

Meanwhile, in terms of product, luxury cruises and river cruises are areas that are showing strength but only 15% of agents call luxury cruises their primary activity and 30% have yet to make a luxury cruise sale, while only 17.5% of agents say they sell river cruises with any regularity.


Interesting Offers From MSC

MSC has recently come out with some interesting appeals to retirees, young cruisers, service personnel and veterans. These offers are for one person sharing a cabin with a full-fare passenger. Over-65s pay 35% of the brochure price (which is a 32.5% reduction between the two) and over-70s 30% (a 35% reduction between two). Cruises are half-price for 18-to-30 year olds and the line is also offering a 40% reduction for armed services personnel, including veterans.

MSC also has a special offer of £599 on Southampton departures between May and September 2011 providing one of two guests sharing is over 55.

These offers are in addition to MSC's kids free policy that allows under-18s to cruise free year-round as long as they are with two adults.

US Cruise Vessel Security & Safety Act 2010

Well, cruise lines, railings must now be 42 inches high on board your ships, passengers must be informed about how to contact US consulates wherever they go and ships must record all serious crimes and thefts above $1,000 to the FBI, and if above $10,000 this must be reported immediately.

The new law also requires that cruise vessels be provided with several other basic security measures, including security peepholes on passenger cabin doors, security cameras, and in new vessels time sensitive locks and latches.

Guernsey Suffers From Heavy Weather

Three cruise ships cancelled calls in Guernsey this weekend as a result of high winds and heavy seas. Those that did not make it into port included the Crown Princess, Black Watch and Saga Ruby. Guernsey usually attracts more than 60 cruise calls a year.

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