Golden years

Are we in the golden age of cruising and don’t know it? There has never been a time in the history of cruising like the one we are in right now, this very day. At no time have so many cruisers taken to the seas on so many ships with so many choices and so many ports of call to visit. How many new mega ships are being launched in June of this year alone? The Crown Princess, The Freedom Of The Seas, the Costa Concordia, the MSC Musica, NCL America Pride Of Hawaii and probably more. It was in this very decade that Cunard built and launched another legendary ship the Queen Mary 2 with another, the Queen Victoria, due in 2007. Cunard hasn’t been this active in thirty years! We are in an age when anyone can take an affordable cruise of any duration to any country on any ship they can imagine.

We have specialized cruise travel agents, cruise websites, online cruise services like Cruise Critic, the Cruise News daily, multiple cruise print magazines, cruise television shows, repeats of the Love Boat, cruise employment agencies, and more. The cruise industry even supports the economy of hundreds of towns and cities around the world. As often as the residents of Juneau might complain about us, where would they be economically without us?

I honestly hope that cruising has a long and lucrative future, after all it supports my family, but I don't think that this golden age we are in will last forever. I don’t think cruising is going to loose popularity. In fact I think as it becomes more accessible and affordable it will only become more popular. I do however think the incredible high speed growth of the industry, the increased passenger capacity of the new mega liners (which are now common place), and the trend towards developing larger and larger ships for no other reason than economic common sense will evolve the industry into something much different than it is today.

I don’t know what the cruise industry will evolve into, but I can make a guess. If current trends continue I wouldn’t be surprised if in another ten years all ship crew will be from only the poorest countries of the world. That’s not a bad thing, again its economic common sense. I wouldn’t be surprised if passengers start to choose ships based on itinerary alone because all of the mega ships will be so much alike in facilities and styles (and probably owned and staffed by the same corporation). I wouldn’t be surprised if ships stop traveling such long distances and remain based in certain areas because fuel and other operational costs make it more economically feasible to have shorter distances between ports. I think however that if that happens the ships will take longer to travel the shorter distances, going at slower speeds to save fuel and increase passenger time onboard, which increases revenue. I could also believe that traditional world cruises and amazing six continent voyages will, at the very least, become highly exclusive. I mean after all how many four or five thousand passenger (or more) ships you can you fill for a four or six week cruise?

I think there will always be a market for the Easy Cruise product and we may even see other lines adopt similar ideals. I also think that those lines that are being cautious about their growth and focusing on their product rather than scrambling to build a new ship every year are probably wise. I know if I was a smaller line right now I would be keeping some nuts in reserve just in case another long cold winter hits. After all, the incredible growth and resulting competition of the giant cruise lines right now is a perfect example of natural selection in nature. If there is anojther blow to the industry even close to 9/11 then somebody HAS to come out on top and some others WILL fall away. In fact, now that I think about it, maybe the CEO’s of the giant lines should invest some money and hire some mathematicians to map the dynamics of this rapid growth industry and the potential pit falls? Might pay off. Any edge is a good edge when you're skating on ice after all. ;0)

Like I said, I don’t know what the industry is going to become. I am just making some guesses. I do know that it isn’t going to be the same as the amazing and exciting cruise industry we are all enjoying today. I think we are all lucky to be enjoying it now and I am certain that in twenty or thirty years when ship lovers and cruisers look back at the early part of the twenty first century they will certainly refer to it as the golden age of cruising.
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