Cruise business booming as never before

Cruise business booming as never before

January 16, 2018 3:00 AM


Nevada’s gambling resorts and those on the Las Vegas Strip remain under siege from all sides when it comes to the battle over vacation spending.

Although the state retains the upper hand, the copycat casino/resorts popping up nationwide remain a threat in the eyes of some industry observers to The Entertainment and Gaming Capital of the World, known as Las Vegas. However, a bigger threat may be the cruise ship business, currently booming as never before.

Carnival Corporation, the major U.S. operator under several brand names such as Princess and others, has recently announced it will launch four new cruise ships in 2018 as part of its current fleet enhancement strategy.

Carnival Horizon, part of Carnival Cruise Line brand, and Seabourn Ovation (Seabourn) will be launched in April and May respectively. AIDAnova (AIDA Cruises) and MS Nieuw Statendam (Holland America Line) will be ready to launch in December.

According to Roger Frizzell, chief communications officer of Carnival, “On top of the three new ships we launched in 2017, we look forward to the delivery of four more spectacular ships that will help us continue providing extraordinary cruise vacations at an exceptional value for our guests.”

Carnival in not stopping there with word the company has 18 new ships scheduled for construction and completion between 2018 and 2022.

Cruise industry analysts say demand for cruise vacations is mounting and the recent and upcoming launchings as well as plans for more new ocean liners are part of the company’s long-term strategy to build state-of-the-art vessels that assist in providing guests with an outstanding vacation experience with exceptional value.

The cruise business has modernized itself on a par with Las Vegas casino/resorts with various levels of service and luxury. Because the demand is there, hundreds of millions of dollars are being invested in new ships. Carnival and its various brands have a loyalty program similar to Nevada casinos. The more you cruise, the more perks you get, including avoiding the long lines to get onboard and get off when the ship reaches its homeport.

In Port Everglades, Fla. (near Fort Lauderdale) alone there can be about 35,000 to 50,000 people leaving on cruises on a busy Sunday.

“Build them and they will come,” as they say.

The Port Everglades website notes the total value of economic activity related to Port Everglades is nearly $30 billion and each cruise ship call at Port Everglades generates an estimated $2.2 million in business revenue for the local economy.

Port Everglades is consistently ranked as one of the three busiest cruise ports in the world with more than 3.8 million passengers in fiscal year 2016 (Oct. 1, 2015 through Sept. 30, 2016). Ten cruise lines, one ferry service and more than 40 cruise ships sail from the seaport including: Balearia’s Bahamas Express (ferry), Carnival Cruise Line, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Crystal Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, Pearl Seas Cruises, Princess Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, and Silversea Cruises.

These statistics are just for Port Everglades. There are cruise ships leaving everyday from other major U.S. seaports, as well.

On a cruise about a year ago I encountered many of the cruise vacation negatives you most likely have read about such as sea sickness, small rooms, poor weather causing missed ports and itinerary changes, long lines for popular amenities and expensive shore excursions that did not live up to the billing or the price. Alcoholic beverage packages are expensive and you need to have at least four drinks a day to make it worth the money. That may work for you, but it doesn’t for me.

Other cruise line problems have been in the news lately and don’t need to be repeated here. Yet, despite the difficulties associated with so many people in such a relatively small space, all seeking a great vacation experience, the cruise business is a major global recreational force to be reckoned with.

Cruises certainly have a far greater upside than downside. Fellow travellers are uncommonly friendly and make socializing fun, the food is usually excellent, lectures provide an educational element and cruises meet the need many of us have to visit new countries and witness different cultures. Cruises can satisfy a sense of adventure that Las Vegas does not.

Cruising and Las Vegas do have a commonality in that the more you can afford to spend, the more luxurious the vacation. For travellers watching the wallet it’s a difficult, individualized choice to decide if you get more bang for the buck in Las Vegas or on a cruise ship.

If Southern Nevada residents wonder why the Las Vegas Strip and the rest of the state constantly must re-invent, re-image and update the vacation infrastructure, it’s because the competition, in the form of cruise ships, demands it.