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From the August 20, 1999 print edition
http://jacksonville.bcentral.com/jacksonville/stories/1999/08/23/focus2.html
In Depth: Hospitality & Tourism


More travelers exploring the
convenience of short cruises

Rita Mace Walston

Convenience and speed have long been the watchwords of American lifestyle. Time is a precious, non-renewable commodity and businesses that offer consumers a product that can enhance their enjoyment of life with a minimum investment of time are sure to find a ready audience.

The cruise industry has been enjoying enviable growth as cruise lines tailor their vacation offerings to give the American public what they want. Particularly popular lately are "short" cruises, excursions of five days or fewer.

Cruise Lines International Association, the industry's professional group, anticipates nearly 6 million Americans and Canadians will take a cruise in 1999, an increase of 8 percent over last year and nearly double the number of a decade ago. Of these travelers, close to 2 million are expected to book a short cruise.

"Short cruises are exceptionally popular because they fit into the most hectic schedules and offer real stress reduction with a variety of activities that allow cruisers to relax and recharge in a limited amount of time," said James G. Godsman, president of CLIA.

CLIA also reports that more cruises tour the Caribbean/Bahamas area than any place in the world, and the proximity of these islands to Florida allows Floridians to squeeze more cruises into hectic schedules than residents of any other state in the union.

The choice of a short cruise over a week-long excursion is not strictly a matter of scheduling, however. Travel agent Theresa Sweat of Bayside Travel in Ponte Vedra Beach said that for a lot of her clients, short cruises complement not only their calendars, but their desires, as well.

"Seven days is a long time on a boat," Sweat said. "A lot of people don't want to spend a whole week on a boat. A three- or four-day cruise lets you take advantage of a long weekend. You don't have to take a whole week off work. You can take off a Friday, a Monday, and basically have a whole vacation."

To continue its pattern of growth, the cruise industry hopes to attract new cruise passengers as well as repeat customers. Short cruises are a valuable tool, said Linda Coffman. Coffman maintains a Web site for About.com, that provides information, links, and forums for those interested in taking a cruise.

"They (short cruises) have always been popular with first time passengers--those who want to get their feet wet and determine if they can go to sea without getting sick," Coffman said. "And with their lower fares, short cruises are less likely to bust the family vacation budget."

While prices vary widely depending on the luxury and location of the ship and the particular cabin, average accommodations on a cruise begin at about $100 per night. Consequently, a short cruise can cost roughly half the cost of a week-long excursion.

Rita Mace Walston is a correspondent with The Business Journal.

Copyright 1999 American City Business Journals Inc.
Web Reprint Permission


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