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HomeNewsArchivesCRUISE INDUSTRY PAINTING AN OPTIMISTIC PICTURE

CRUISE INDUSTRY PAINTING AN OPTIMISTIC PICTURE

Sept. 26, 2001 — Two weeks after the terrorist attacks on the mainland, cruise line industry officials are keeping an optimistic eye on the start of the cruise season in November.
The International Council of Cruise Lines is a non-profit trade association based in Virginia that represents the interests of 16 cruise lines in the North American market. Its president, Michael Crye, told the British Broadcasting Company on Wednesday that despite terrorism's crippling effects on mass travel, he doesn’t believe Caribbean cruises will be severely impacted in the coming months.
"We anticipate that the ships that will be going from South Florida and San Juan to the Caribbean destinations should not be affected substantially," Crye said.
Because of the perception that the Caribbean is a traditionally friendly region, Crye said, American vacationers won’t be as averse to leaving home to go that route. And to circumvent the new fear of flying and the logistical complications of doing so, he said, two major cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, will be setting sail from new "drive-up markets," such as Galveston and Houston in Texas, New Orleans and Tampa.
This approach, Crye said, will not only ease the need for cruise passengers to fly to their embarkation points and back, but also reduce the overall cost of a cruise because no airfare will be involved.
The Caribbean "will be one of the best vacations," Crye said.
Adding to the industry’s rosy picture for the region are recent capacity reports from major cruise lines. For departures Sept. 19-23, Carnival Corp. ships operated at an occupancy level of 97.7 percent, according to the company. During this period, the company's six fleets — Carnival, Holland America, Windstar, Seabourn, Costa and Cunard — carried a total of 58,718 guests.
"The strengthening in occupancy levels is very encouraging and clearly indicates that consumers are resuming their vacation plans, including returning to the airways," Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison said in a release. Despite the increased security at airports and seaports, he said, delays have been less than anticipated, and consumers are demonstrating a desire to begin traveling again.
"It's apparent that, based on these numbers, Americans are heeding the advice of our elected officials and returning to their normal activities, which includes taking vacations," Arison said.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that occupancy on its Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises ships was 92 percent for Sept. 20-24. And it was 97 percent for the company’s seven-night Caribbean cruises, according to a company release.
"Concerns regarding the safety of traveling are easing on a daily basis," Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said. "We will do whatever we can as a company to speed that recovery."
That recovery is crucial to the Virgin Islands, particularly the St. Thomas-St. John district, where earlier projections envisioned 1.9 million passengers visiting this calendar year, with two million expected in 2002. Those passengers and the ships' crew pump $1.2 billion into the islands' economy, mainly in the retail and tour sectors.
On Tuesday, one cruise line halted all operations and filed for federal bankruptcy protection — but it was a company offering itineraries in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific, not in the Caribbean. Renaissance Cruises, a privately held firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., operated eight ships.
It was the second indication this week that the Mediterranean and Asia's loss as a result of heightened security concerns may be the Caribbean's gain. On Monday, it was announced locally that the Norway, which had been scheduled to leave the Eastern Caribbean after two decades to begin service in Asia this winter, will instead return to the region for at least another year, continuing to call weekly at St. Thomas and St. John.
There are 719 cruise ship calls scheduled for St. Thomas-St. John this coming season, while St. Croix is expected to see about 110.

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Sept. 26, 2001 -- Two weeks after the terrorist attacks on the mainland, cruise line industry officials are keeping an optimistic eye on the start of the cruise season in November.
The International Council of Cruise Lines is a non-profit trade association based in Virginia that represents the interests of 16 cruise lines in the North American market. Its president, Michael Crye, told the British Broadcasting Company on Wednesday that despite terrorism's crippling effects on mass travel, he doesn’t believe Caribbean cruises will be severely impacted in the coming months.
"We anticipate that the ships that will be going from South Florida and San Juan to the Caribbean destinations should not be affected substantially," Crye said.
Because of the perception that the Caribbean is a traditionally friendly region, Crye said, American vacationers won’t be as averse to leaving home to go that route. And to circumvent the new fear of flying and the logistical complications of doing so, he said, two major cruise lines, Carnival and Royal Caribbean, will be setting sail from new "drive-up markets," such as Galveston and Houston in Texas, New Orleans and Tampa.
This approach, Crye said, will not only ease the need for cruise passengers to fly to their embarkation points and back, but also reduce the overall cost of a cruise because no airfare will be involved.
The Caribbean "will be one of the best vacations," Crye said.
Adding to the industry’s rosy picture for the region are recent capacity reports from major cruise lines. For departures Sept. 19-23, Carnival Corp. ships operated at an occupancy level of 97.7 percent, according to the company. During this period, the company's six fleets -- Carnival, Holland America, Windstar, Seabourn, Costa and Cunard -- carried a total of 58,718 guests.
"The strengthening in occupancy levels is very encouraging and clearly indicates that consumers are resuming their vacation plans, including returning to the airways," Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison said in a release. Despite the increased security at airports and seaports, he said, delays have been less than anticipated, and consumers are demonstrating a desire to begin traveling again.
"It's apparent that, based on these numbers, Americans are heeding the advice of our elected officials and returning to their normal activities, which includes taking vacations," Arison said.
Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. announced that occupancy on its Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises ships was 92 percent for Sept. 20-24. And it was 97 percent for the company’s seven-night Caribbean cruises, according to a company release.
"Concerns regarding the safety of traveling are easing on a daily basis," Richard Fain, chairman of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said. "We will do whatever we can as a company to speed that recovery."
That recovery is crucial to the Virgin Islands, particularly the St. Thomas-St. John district, where earlier projections envisioned 1.9 million passengers visiting this calendar year, with two million expected in 2002. Those passengers and the ships' crew pump $1.2 billion into the islands' economy, mainly in the retail and tour sectors.
On Tuesday, one cruise line halted all operations and filed for federal bankruptcy protection -- but it was a company offering itineraries in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific, not in the Caribbean. Renaissance Cruises, a privately held firm based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., operated eight ships.
It was the second indication this week that the Mediterranean and Asia's loss as a result of heightened security concerns may be the Caribbean's gain. On Monday, it was announced locally that the Norway, which had been scheduled to leave the Eastern Caribbean after two decades to begin service in Asia this winter, will instead return to the region for at least another year, continuing to call weekly at St. Thomas and St. John.
There are 719 cruise ship calls scheduled for St. Thomas-St. John this coming season, while St. Croix is expected to see about 110.