Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Sunset of 2008

Close your eyes and picture yourself on the balcony of your favorite cruise ship. It is almost dusk. Memories of the day's activities are running through your mind. You open your eyes just in time to witness the sun slowly sinking from the sky and settling into it's nightly resting place deep in the ocean.

Darkness surrounds you as the sun's light is completely extinguished. This doesn't bother you since you have hope that tomorrow the sun will once again rise high into the sky above and shine brightly as you explore yet another destination along life's journey.

As 2008 draws to a close, I would be remiss if this column didn't take a look at the year in review. Somewhere out there, someone stood on a balcony looking at the final sunset of the year and just as you, hoped for a bright tomorrow.

Perhaps this year, more than others in recent time, many people are hoping for a brighter tomorrow. The last quarter of the year has been the most challenging as we learned that we were indeed in a recession.

Close your eyes one more time and think about the good and the bad times of 2008. On the bad side, I suspect your list will include the rising cost of fuel, the credit crunch, the housing problems, bank bailouts (and more bailouts)... On the good side there are the new leaders that were elected that bring the promise of change to the new year. The task of digging out of the recession is in their hands.

The cruise industry was not exempt from the credit crunch and rising fuel costs. All the major cruise lines imposed fuel surcharges which added to the cost of your vacations. The good news is that the end of the year brought declining fuel costs and the cruise lines have rolled back those surcharges. Already the sun is starting to peak out from it's nightly resting place.

Amidst all of this, Celebrity Cruises new ship Solstice set sail for it's inaugural season. I was fortunate to be one of the first passengers to set sail on this new ship which has set a higher standard for all the cruise lines to meet. We'll take a closer look at this ship in future columns.

What are your happy memories from 2008? I hope that you were on a cruise vacation. I also hope that the economic woes of 2008 haven't prevented you from planning future cruise vacations.

For those of you thar are regular readers of my blog, you know that we visisted Bermuda, Alaska, and the Galapagos this year. Due to the holidays I've gotten behind on my blogging, but promise to continue the Galapagos trip column in January.

In bad times, investors seek out value. Cruise vacations continue to be the best travel value, so this is the time to take advantage of the bargains that are available.

Let us close the book on this historic year together. Tomorrow, when you awake, open the book on what I hope will be a brighter tomorrow. Happy, Healthy, Propserous New Year to all!!

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