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January 9, 2006

North American cruise passenger traffic growing

For the first nine months of 2005, cruise passenger traffic in North America was 4.5 percent above the same period in 2004, despite the impact of hurricanes on Gulf port cruises, according to third quarter statistics released by the U.S. Maritime Administration.

The data, part of the MARAD's regularly-issued cruise passenger series, also show that cruise passenger traffic is up 18.5 percent over the same period in 2003, the year that MARAD first began publishing these statistics. Moreover, 15 out of the 17 cruise lines analyzed in the series showed an increase in traffic in 2005.

Deputy Maritime Administrator John Jamian attributed the overall pattern of growth to "a vibrant U.S. economy and a dynamic cruise industry."

The traffic figures highlight the impact of hurricane Katrina. Gulf ports saw a 27 percent decline in cruise passengers in the third quarter. New Orleans, which had been one of the fastest-growing U.S. cruise ports, had a 46 percent decline in cruise passengers. However, other U.S. ports, particularly those in the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, experienced an increase in cruise passenger travel.

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