This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

January 5, 2011

Cruising Trends for the Near-Term Future

Lately, the cruise industry has earned a greater share of mind---for better or worse. Recently, we have seen Kevin Sheenan CEO of Norwegian Cruise Lines on the "Undercover Boss" television show, the Carnival Splendor adrift in the sea off the coast of Mexico, and the cruise ship Louis Majesty hit by a rogue wave in the Mediterranean Sea. In addition, many more of us have been traveling by cruise ship than in the past.

As we reported a year ago, NCL and Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines have now launched megaships, hosting 2500 to 5000+ passengers. With their onboard rappelling walls, water slides, zip lines, big-name entertainment, and tens of restaurants on board, these floating cities attract huge crowds of vacationers. Especially for younger travelers, these megaships are very attractive. They will jump at opportunities to enjoy these exciting experiences. On the other hand, these megaships have added thousands of open cabins of availability.

With thousands of additional cabins available in 2011 and a slowly recovering economy in the United States and Europe, chances are that passengers will be able to find super cruise deals, particularly if they are willing to wait until the last minute for booking. It seems that there is a sharp drop in the last minute deal prices offered by cruise lines. Thus if you can, we recommend waiting until only 30 to 40 days before sailing to get the best deal. The downside of that tactic is that you may not get your preferred cabin in the ship or may even lose out altogether.

Another growing trend is flexible-dining. Called "free-style cruising" or "as-you-wish dining", we see this trend growing in importance. Moreover, there will be more healthy dining options; and some forward-thinking cruise line will begin "senior portions".

In the near-term, closer destinations will have greater appeal, because of the more reasonable airfares. We will also see larger numbers of shorter cruises (fewer than seven days) to give more people an affordable "taste" of the onboard experience.

Luxurious cruises will continue to appeal to wealthiest passengers. This segment will also continue to grow, as passengers enjoy the all-you-can-drink, better quality food, and no-gratuities cruising.

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