The cruise ship boom Essay

The lure of the sea isn’t new to Westerners. But in recent
years, the lure of cruising has been pulling stronger than ever. More
than half of the passengers on cruise ships leaving U.S. ports come from
the Western states. And more come from California than from any other
state.



You can see a similar pattern in the rapidly expanding service from
Western ports. Ten years ago, it amounted to a handful of ships and
routes. Today, Alaska alone is reached by 10 different lines and 16
ships; 18 ships will call at Mexican ports this fall. Although the
Caribbean is still the single most popular destination for Westerners,
the Mexican Riviera, Alaska, and other Pacific destinations combined
now account for more total business, a trend we’ve been watching.

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Those are not the only changes:



A new breed of liner. Larger than most ships currently afloat, the
new breed averages 700 feet and can carry up to 1,200 passengers. (Most
liners are 450 to 600 feet and take 400 to 900 passengers.) They have
wider passageways, more suites, and more public rooms.



Since 1982, a handful of large new ships have been introduced on
the West Coast: Carnival’s Tropicale, Holland America’s Nieuw
Amsterdam and Noordam, and Sitmar’s Fairsky. Early next year,
watch for Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess.



Also, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Royal Viking, Sitmar, and
Western Cruise Lines have spent millions of dollars remodeling vessels
already afloat. And Cunard’s 800-passenger Princess now runs
exclusively on the West Coast.


More cruise options. Three- and 4-day trips to Mexico are more
widely available, as are 7-day segments to Mexico and Alaska, replacing
costlier 14-day round trips. To cater to younger, more active
passengers, the lines are offering health spas, aerobics classes, and
children’s programs. In port, optional tour packages may include
golf, hiking, snorkeling, sailing, even river rafting.



More incentives. To fill the extra berths now available, cruise
lines are offering a multitude of rebates and discounts. It can pay to
shop for last-minute bargains on unsold staterooms, as well as for
fly-cruise programs and advance bookings for 1985. Overall, prices will
probably rise just 2 to 4 percent through next year.



Improving our ports. Los Angeles, the leading Western cruise port
and second only to Miami, will be the home of a future world cruise
center at berts 90 to 96 in San Pedro. Starting in late ’85, if
all goes well, the $40-million site will be docking up to five cruise
ships.



San Diego plans to develop B Street Pier, a 9-acre landfill near
the city center and airport, into a modern facility that can handle two
to five ships. Seattle expects to omplete its new cruise terminal on
Pier 66 by May 1986–the same time Vancouver hopes to open its new
terminal.



Over the years, Sunset has reported specific cruise destinations,
how to choose voyages, and cost-saving packages. We’ll continue
these kinds of articles, and also report changing ports of call and the
ships that are sure to come in the years ahead. WINDOW ON THE WEST:
Alaska bound



Steaming toward the Golden Gate Bridge en route to Alaska last
summer, the Nieuw Amsterdam dwarfs a tourist ferry boat in San Francisco
Bay. With September’s end, the Alaska cruise season closes and
liners head for the wet coast of Mexico, where 18 ships will be sailing
through the winter. San Francisco, a regular stop for 10 ships, is
spending $4 million to upgrade passenger facilities on Pier 35, hoping
to claim more of the West Coast business.

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