This Week's Herman Trend Alert

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  The Herman Trend Alert

December 2, 2009

Future of Cruising

A water park with three slides, two bowling alleys, a rock climbing wall, and Las Vegas-level entertainment. No, we are not describing a new Disney or Gaylord resort; we are describing new cruise ships, currently on the drawing boards. Never mind the ports of call, cruise ships are becoming destinations.

Norwegian Cruise Line's megaship Epic, launching in July, will feature 20 dining options, as well as offering the highly acclaimed Blue Man Group on its main stage, and jazz and comedy clubs provide lots of entertainment.

Royal Caribbean's equally impressive Oasis of the Seas, launched just this week, provides its 5000+ passengers with many amenities, including a rope zip line that diagonally spans nine-decks above the ship's open-air atrium. Moreover, the ship has a Las-Vegas-style Royal Promenade and six other themed "neighborhoods", providing the opportunity to find personally relevant experiences.

With ships as destinations, the trend is towards reducing the number of ports visited. With more days at sea, the cruise lines' onboard spas and casinos will earn higher revenues---a positive effect on the bottom line.

According to a recent survey from America's Vacation Center Affiliates, 79 percent of consumers are currently buying on price, while 14 percent are buying on destination, and only seven percent make their buying decisions by cruise line. The agents polled in the Cruise One/Cruises, Inc. survey reported similar results, though in their findings even more consumers are buying on price (83.6 percent).

With a trend toward people being cautiously optimistic, we are seeing more stability in bookings, although people are currently either booking far out or closer in. New Zealand and The Baltic Region are particularly hot attractions in the coming year.

For the affluent traveler, most cruise lines offer private areas surrounding suites, closed to public access, some with butler service. Then there is the trend towards adventure cruising. If you have unlimited funds, you might want to take Crystal Cruises' special excursion "Extreme Overnight Adventure in Antarctica" for a mere $9957/night. Or you might choose to take Holland America's Cruise to the World Cup, stopping in Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, and Durban.

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