Caribbean Stays Strong with Cruises

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports some dramatic changes in ship deployment this year, as cruise lines have moved their vessels in response to world events and to find attractive new itineraries for their newbuilds.
According to CLIA, the most popular destinations historically—including the Caribbean/Bahamas, the Mediterranean, Alaska and Europe—continue to predominate. But of the four most popular cruising areas, the Caribbean region, Europe and Alaska have increased their share of the market, while cruises in the Mediterranean, especially the eastern Med, have decreased.
CLIA`s annual destination analysis shows that the Caribbean/Bahamas captures 46.6 percent of the market in 2002 (compared with 44.5 percent in 2001); as usual, this area was the top destination for capacity placement. In second place is Europe, with nearly 11 percent of the market, compared with 8 percent in 2001. Popular European regions will include the Baltic, the Norwegian coast and the Spanish and French Rivieras.
More than 10 percent of cruise bed days will be dedicated to the Mediterranean, which has dropped to the number three cruise destination for the first time since 1995. The Mediterranean scored a 12.7 percent share last year, which represented the second most popular destination.
In fourth place is Alaska, which inches up its share to 7.95 percent in 2002, compared with 7.89 percent in 2001.
Some other destinations are seeing a dramatic jump in their cruise capacity this year. While these together comprise just 9.4 percent of the capacity placement, their growth this year is remarkable. For example: Western Mexico nearly tripled in number of bed days (jumping to 5.3 percent of the market from just under 2 percent in 2001); bed days on trans-Pacific cruises more than doubled, as did the market share (from .11 percent in 2001 to .22 percent in 2002); cruises along the East Coast jumped 83 percent over a year ago (nearly doubling its market share to .23 percent); Antarctica tips the scales at 50 percent more bed days than last year (.12 percent market share, up from .08 percent last year); capacity in the Far East increased by 67 percent (commanding a .57 percent share versus a .36 percent share a year ago); and bed days in Hawaii increased by 22 percent (earning 2.99 percent of the market, up from 2.61 percent).
Another interesting trend indicated by CLIA`s destination analysis is the growth of smaller, regional ports of embarkation. While the analysis does not specify each port of call beyond such major embarkation points as Miami and other ports in Florida, New York, Los Angeles and a few more, the number of embarkations at “Miscellaneous U.S. ports” has grown in the last five years from 136 cruises to 439.
“Events have opened up new cruise opportunities for travelers. Redeployments have taken ships to destinations they may not previously have visited,” said Mark Conroy, chairman of CLIA, the non-profit marketing organization representing the major North American cruise lines. “The result is an increase in the variety of destination experiences that complement the variety of onboard experiences that are available to cruisers this year.”