Friday, December 31, 2010

Sunset of 2010

Red skies at night...
sailors delight. 
One famous nautical superstition has sailors looking to the evening skies to determine the weather for the next day.   A colorful sunset with red skies meant the seas would be calm and the weather favorable delighting the sailors.

What will the artist's canvas look like tonight as the final sunset is painted in the evening sky?    Let's hope that the sunset signals calm seas with favorable conditions for the coming year.

Year of Disasters - Natural & Man Made

Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Volcanoes, Hurricanes

Photo courtesy Royal Caribbean International

Early in 2010, a major earthquake hit Haiti killing or injuring  hundreds of thousands, causing billions of dollars of damage, and devastating this already struggling nation.

The cruise industry and others rallied to try to help the country following the disaster.   Royal Caribbean, who has a long-standing relationship with the government of Haiti, led the cruise industry response (even while being criticized).  The nation would later suffer additional loss of life and damage when a hurricane struck the country.

Later in the year, the world's eyes turned to the skies over Iceland as volcanic ash grounded flights over Europe disrupting travel across the entire world.   Passengers were stranded in airports for days until the ash cleared.

Some passengers were unable to get to their cruise ships on time while in other cases, the ships provided an alternate means of travel for stranded air passengers.   It was a logistical nightmare for the entire travel industry and put additional strain on the economy.

Hurricane season began with a vengeance and it was feared that the NOAA predictions of a higher than normal season would become a reality.   There were a larger than usual number of named storms and hurricanes, but fortunately, they didn't produce the devastation of years past. 

That doesn't mean that there wasn't any loss of life or property damage.  As mentioned, Haiti did have substantial damage as did St. Lucia and other Caribbean countries.  Cruise itineraries were changed as storms approached or in their wake as services were restored.

Oil Spill, Ship Fire

During the height of hurricane season, an explosion on an oil rig caused loss of life and a major oil spill that would consume resources from the federal government and other agencies.  The spill severely endangered the ecology of the Gulf Coast region.    It took months to clean up and the effects of the spill will remain for many years to come.

Cruises were not impacted during the spill as the impacted ports remained open. Despite the continued cruise line presence, the economic impact from the oil spill took its toll on the region.  Many people changed their vacation plans as the cleanup continued.

The most recent major event of 2010 was the engine room fire on Carnival Splendor which stranded passengers on that cruise and impacted vacation plans through February next year.  The good news is that the industry will learn from this event and become even safer.

Cruise Line Expansion

2010 saw the introduction of several new cruise ships including Costa Deliziosa, MSC Magnifica, Celebrity Eclipse, P&O Azura, Norwegian Epic, Seabourn Sojourn, Holland America Nieuw Amsterdam, Cunard Queen Elizabeth, Royal Caribbean Allure of the Seas, and Disney Dream.

The introduction of these new ships means there are more choices for the consumer.  As demand continues to increase, the capacity is keeping  pace assuring that a cruise vacation is well within the realm of possible vacation choices.

While the economy and disasters have been front and center all year long,  passengers are returning to cruising and we anticipate prices will rise as 2011 pricing comes out.   There might be some time yet to take advantage of lower prices, so it is wise not to procrastinate.  

Just like 2009, we saw an increase in first-time cruisers and those that have tried cruising continue to return year after year.    A cruise vacation remains an extremely good value making it a wise choice for those that decided to take a vacation.

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, Prosperous New Year to all!!

No comments: