With more ships slated to enter service in 2002 than in any other single year in the history of the cruise industry, the new year is shaping up to be a significant period for the North American cruise lines
Fifteen ships -- accommodating 49 to 2,600 guests -- will spawn intriguing new itineraries both close to home and around the world, an expanding roster of options and unprecedented value, says Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the International Council of Cruise Lines (ICCL).
The fleet is expected to serve an ever-expanding roster of ports, as destination was cited by more than 85 percent of all respondents as the most important factor in the decision to take a particular cruise. The most popular future cruise destinations among all vacationers are the Caribbean and Alaska, followed by the Bahamas and Hawaii. Experienced cruisers also expressed notable interest in Mediterranean/Greek Islands/Turkey itineraries.
In addition to the continued popularity of western Mediterranean, Baltic and Scandinavian itineraries, lines also are featuring sailings to the South Pacific, Far East and Africa, transatlantic crossings and world cruises.
The cruise industry's highest priority remains the safety and security of all passengers and crew. Within hours of the September 11 events, cruise lines implemented Level III (the highest level) security measures, as cited in the U.S. Coast Guard's Security for Passenger Vessels and Passenger Terminals regulations, and remain at that level.
The welfare of the environment is also a primary concern for the industry. All cruise ships operating in American waters must comply with U.S. environmental laws. The cruise industry maintains a leadership role in all maritime operations and is committed to eliminating all forms of pollution through improved environmental policies, procedures, and technology.
The cruise industry plays a key role in the economy, too.
"The industry remains committed to helping the travel industry and the economy grow," says Michael Crye, president of ICCL. "In 2000, the cruise industry created 257,000 American jobs and contributed approximately $18 billion to the U.S. economy."