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CLIA: Cruise Industry rebounding at record pace in 2002

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA<.>), which represents 23 North American cruise lines and 17,000 affiliated travel agencies, reports…

Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA<.>), which represents 23 North American cruise lines and 17,000 affiliated travel agencies, reports a 3.8 percent increase in the number of cruisers in the first half of 2002 over the same period in 2001. With more than 3.6 million North American vacationers taking cruises thus far in 2002 as compared to nearly 3.5 million in the first half of last year, the industry is on track to meet its target of a record 7.4 million North American cruisers in 2002.



The fact that the public has demonstrated its belief in the value of a cruise vacation and the confidence in our industry has been extremely gratifying, says Mark Conroy, chairman of CLIA, a member of the Cruise Line Coalition communication partnership of the major cruise line associations. It is also testimony to the hard work and commitment of the people in the industry and our travel agent partners through this difficult period.



Adjustments to schedules and security procedures were made and have been maintained, but the same great product is being delivered in such a way that it continues to not only meet but also exceed the expectations of the vast majority of those who choose it.



Recent financials released by the large publicly traded lines have demonstrated the continued strength of the market, resulting in slightly lower yields for the first half of 2002 but maintaining the historically high levels of occupancy,
Conroy continues.



Several of the lines that had altered their European itineraries after September 11 are returning to Europe, particularly the Mediterranean, in 2003, largely in response to consumers` requests. Others who had shifted their focus to itineraries departing from North American ports — some for the first time — are expanding those programs as well.



They received such positive response to the use of these ports, which place cruises within driving distance of more residents, that they are increasing the number of departures from those locations, adds Bob Sharak, executive director and vice president of marketing and business development for CLIA.



Another factor in the resurgence of consumer confidence is the peace of mind a cruise environment offers. The cruise industry`s number one priority continues to be the safety and security of passengers and crew. Cruise lines had security plans in place years before the events of September 11, and within hours of the attacks, cruise ships implemented their highest level of security. The heightened security measures remain in place today, including 100 percent passenger baggage screening and intensified screening of passenger identification. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, cruise ships operating from U.S. ports continue to be the safest form of mass transportation.



Growth



The industry is responding to the consumer confidence by continuing to expand its fleet and providing cruisers with more options than ever. More than 20 ships are slated to enter the CLIA fleet between fall 2002 and the end of 2003.



We have invested literally billions of dollars not only in building state-of-the-art ships but also in consistently upgrading our existing fleets, says Conroy. The consensus in the industry is that business will continue to improve and that we will end 2002 on a strong note, which should flow through into 2003.



We owe the industry`s resilience in some part to the thousands of dedicated travel agents who focus on cruise vacations; in fact, 95 percent of the industry`s bookings come through travel agents,
says Sharak.

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