During the recent recession, the cruise industry continued to be profitable…one of the few industries to make that claim.
Orders for new cruise ships have slowed down over the past three years which should be good for the industry, as cabin prices should slowly increase.
Several ships are returning to Alaska in 2012 now that the state has decreased its cruise tax by 25 percent, increased tourism marketing and has eased some of its environmental regulations.
Kevin Sheehan, president of NCL, noted that cruise lines are now recognizing the importance of outdoor space, hence, the additions of many outdoor attractions such as water slides, large-screen movie screens, adults-only “sanctuaries” and zip lines. “All of these bring passengers closer and closer to the sea,” he said.
There is still a huge untapped market for cruising around the world. In the US, only 3.1 percent of the population has taken a cruise. The numbers are significantly smaller for Europe, Asia and Australia…meaning there is much opportunity for growth.
Everyone seemed to agree that Europe is the experiencing the most growth at this time. “The Old World is the New World for cruising,” said Pierfrancesco Vago, head of MSC Cruises, which is based in Europe. Vago noted that most Europeans have 34 days vacation a year, compared to 9 days in the U.S.
One reason for the success of the industry is that its assets are moveable…making cruise ships much more flexible than land-based resorts.
The cruise industry is emerging from the recession much more global that it was going in and that is not going to change. Ships are now being based in places not even considered just a few years ago, like Australia.
Princess previews newest ship
Later in the day, Princess held a press conference announcing the name of its newest ship. She will be called the Royal Princess, the third time the line has given the name to a ship. She will debut in spring of 2013 and carry 3,600 passengers.
A new design element revealed today is an over-water SeaWalk, a top-deck glass-bottomed enclosed walkway on the ship’s starboard side extending more than 28 feet beyond the edge of the vessel. From here passengers can enjoy dramatic views, including to the sea 128 feet below. On the ship’s port side, passengers will find a similarly-unique cantilevered SeaView bar, featuring cocktails with unbeatable vistas.
Also on her top decks, Royal Princess will feature a new adults-only pool surrounded by seven plush private cabanas that appear to be floating on the water. Two additional pools will flank a tropical island that will offer pool seating by day, and by night will become an outdoor dance club, complete with a dazzling water and light show.
Princess’ signature adults-only haven, The Sanctuary, will be expanded both in size and amenities. The popular poolside theater, Movies Under the Stars, will play a starring role mid-ship with an expanded size and high-definition viewing.
All outside staterooms on the ship will have balconies.