Cruising set for record year
Forget fears of cruise line overcapacity. Forget fears of the 9/11 effect. And don't worry too much about the NLV bug. More than two million North American vacationers cruised during the third quarter of 2002, , according to Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA). The number reflects a 17 percent increase (294,000 passengers) over the same period last year. CLIA-member lines also reported an average industry occupancy level of 97.9 percent during the third quarter 2002.
For the first three quarters of 2002, the number of North American cruise passengers sailing on CLIA member lines is up 9.5 percent over the same period last year, for a total of 5.56 million cruisers, and on a worldwide basis, 6.43 million guests sailed on CLIA-member cruise lines -- an increase of 11.33 percent over the previous year.
"The third quarter figures illustrate the continuing strong demand for cruise vacations," says Mark Conroy, CLIA chairman and president of Radisson Seven Seas Cruises. "The industry is on course to carry 7.4 million cruisers by the end of the year, easily surpassing last year's 6.9 million."
"Considering the capacity of new ships expected to enter the market through the end of the year, traditional travel patterns and booking volume reported by CLIA-member lines, we feel confident that 2002 will be a record-setting year," says Bob Sharak, CLIA's executive director.
Since 1981, cruise passenger growth has increased an average of 8.4 percent annually, keeping pace with the annual average capacity growth of 7.6 percent. Based on current available information, capacity under contract or planned is expected to increase at an average rate of 7.9 percent over the next five years..