Cruise ships: A luxury for the rest of us

Cruisers just off a ship reflect on why they decided on a cruise and whether it was worth the money.

For many well-heeled Americans, the idea of a luxury vacation is a fancy hotel or an expensive flight to an exotic destination. And for the wealthiest among us, taking a break means private jets and pricey beach resorts. But for more than 10 million Americans annually, their luxury vacation means a berth on a cruise ship.

"The United States is still clearly the No. 1... market for cruisers in the world," Royal Caribbean president and CEO Adam Goldstein told Marketplace. "There are about 20 million people a year in the world taking a cruise right now and 11 or 12 [million] come from the United States."

Cruise ships weren't always so mainstream. In 1970, Goldstein said only 500,000 people took a cruise every year. 

"It's definitely become more available, when I got into the business in 1988 we aspired to be a mainstream vacation," Goldstein said. "It's definitely become more accessible but what the last few years of challenges, economically, have posed to us is the need to really get across the value message of what is included in the cruise purchase."

A cruise ship parked at the Port of Miami

According to industry research firm Cruise Market Watch, the ticket price for a typical cruise passenger is $1,311. When you combine onboard expenses and incidentals, the price tag rises to $1,711.

That's not inexpensive, but the the average American family will spend $4,000 on a vacation, including airfare, according to a 2010 American Express survey.

"First of all, we draw pretty broadly, obviously we offer upscale vacations," Goldstein said. "We are looking at household income of probably something like $75,000 and up generally speaking. The vast majority of our cruisers I would say would be middle and upper-middle class."

About the author

Jeremy Hobson is host of Marketplace Morning Report, where he looks at business news from a global perspective to prepare listeners for the day ahead.
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The United States is still plainly the No. 1... market for cruisers on the planet," Royal Caribbean president and CEO Adam Goldstein told Marketplace. "There are something like 20 million individuals a year on the planet taking a voyage at this moment and 11 or 12 [million] hail from the United States.[url="http://www.punctuationchecker.net/"]punctuation checker[/url]

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All of the amenities from a cruise are available at land-based resorts on multiple continents. What's the appeal of paying more money to enjoy those on a boat? Plus, having read about the ordeal it was to get legitimate medical emergency passengers off this boat and onto another, I can't say that I'm inspired with confidence in the emergency evacuation plans of these floating timebombs. Concordia sank in relatively shallow waters and still dozens die. If one of these monstrosities went down away from land, the death toll would be staggering.

I am not sure if the advantages of taking the cruise outweigh the disadvantages. As your article points out, the disadvantage is the cost. The advantage depends on the person. Some people may enjoy a cruise. But I personally don't think I would enjoy it, even if it were free. I would prefer to actually travel in a way that is not so "restricted"....because I have heard cruises have a lot of restrictions about what you can and can't do .

I have never been on a cruise, and I will not be due to the prices. If one ticket costs around and average of $1,711, i don't think I can afford it.
And to say the truth, I'm not enthusiastic about taking a cruise.
Its much better to travel someplace, meet people or see wonderful landscapes than being locked up in a ship, traveling in sea. It seems too much segregation for me...


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