TAX CONFERENCE

The recently enacted "American Jobs Creation Act" gives significant tax breaks to a number of U.S. industries--including shipping.

MARINE LOG and BLANK ROME will present a senior level seminar CHANGES IN U.S. TAXATION OF SHIPPING INCOME in Stamford, Conn. on April 5 & 6, 2004

Make sure you know how the new tax rules work!


March 15, 2005

Cruising heads for 11 million passenger mark

CLIA, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) reports that cruise lines are beating all previous booking records. In all, a record 10.5 million people took a cruise in 2004, it was announced today at the 20th annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping Convention. CLIA predicts just over 11 million travelers will cruise in 2005.

CLIA's 19 cruise lines members collectively accommodate 95 percent of North American cruise passengers.

The numbers for last year break down as follows: 8,870,901 North American passengers sailed on CLIA-member line ships in 2004, compared with 7,990,246 in 2003 -- which represents a year-to-year increase of 11 percent. In 2004 1,589,936 international passengers sailed on CLIA lines, compared with 1,536,714 in 2003.

"Bookings for 2005 are coming in at a fast and furious pace, far in advance of departure dates," said Terry L. Dale, President and CEO of CLIA--the cruise industry's chief marketing organization and North America's largest travel industry association based on agency membership. "Many of the positive trends we saw emerging in January are becoming firmly entrenched. The booking window continues to narrow, consumer demand continues to rise, and travelers are flocking to more far-flung destinations like Europe and Asia."

RIDING THE 'WAVE'

Although there are more cruise departures and itineraries than ever before--68 vessels will have debuted between 2000 and the end of 2005--CLIA's member line ships are sailing at a remarkable 104 percent occupancy rate.

CLIA-member lines report that the robust bookings generated during this year's Wave Season--the period from January to March during which cruise lines capture their largest share of annual bookings--is bringing record numbers of new passengers into the cruise fold.

"Bookings are so robust that some of our member agencies are scrambling to find staterooms on certain itineraries requested by their clients," Dale said. "While there are still exciting itineraries and a choice of staterooms available on many sailings, consumers should act fast."


THE EUROPE BOOM

CLIA says travelers are "flocking to Europe in droves," but choosing to cruise to insulate themselves from the sticker-shock of European land vacations. "Cruise vacationers in Europe pre-pay in U.S. dollars, which protects them from the effects of the weak dollar abroad," says CLIA, adding that "the high cost of the euro against the U.S. dollar, coupled with extraordinary early booking opportunities, is transforming 2005 into a banner year for cruising in Europe."


HOME SWEET HOME PORT

Since CLIA's inception in 1975 the number of North American "homeports" from which cruise ships offer regular departures has nearly tripled. Vacationers now have 30 homeports from which to choose as CLIA's member cruise lines recognize North Americans' desire for departure ports within driving distance.

MORE SHIPS COMING
The cruise industry will continue to grow through continued fleet expansion throughout this year and beyond. CLIA fleets will introduce 20 more ships between now and 2008.

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