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Cruise Shrinkage?

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One cruise line is shuttering it doors, another is dissolving, cruise ships are repositioning and returning to America for the summer rather than sailing in Europe. Exactly what is going on here? Cruise shrinkage?

Majestic America Lines is going to sell all of its boats, so river steamboats are going to disappear in America for at least a year. This is truly a shame. I just hope the Delta Queen, the last true vestige of the steamboat era in America, does not disappear forever. It is merely a victim of politics this year like so many other American institutions.

Carnival Corporation is dissolving a U.K. cruise line, Ocean Village, and sending its ships to Australia where the economy is better. Carnival will also keep its Carnival Liberty in Miami next summer rather than deploy it to Europe. Carnival was just beginning to dip its toes into European waters and I guess they found them a bit chilly. Just one Carnival ship will sail four cruises in Europe next autumn.

The cruise lines see things are tough here in the U.S even though fuel prices have dropped significantly. They are even worse “over there.” The dollar has improved some 25% against the Euro.

The economy is affecting a LOT of things these days. The cruise lines believe guests are going to cut back on spending and they don’t expect us to use that plastic money as much as we did before. Even though consumer spending has saved us from economic downturns before, no one should spend money willy-nilly right now. Still, I worry about consumer-spending drying up too much. Then this economy will get worse before it gets better.

Our perceived wealth also has “shrinkage” in our pensions, 401Ks and home values. Meanwhile, economists and politicians are scaring the daylights out of us by saying how bad things have gotten. When they remind us that capital gains could go up in the future we become as afraid to invest money as we are to spend it.

Do you know what this reminds me of? There was once a downer President named Jimmy Carter who told us “There is a malaise over America, and I call it stagflation.”

Carter was an unknown governor who was elected because the voters were enraged about the previous President Nixon who kept us in an unpopular war and lied to the American people. Carter pulled our team out of the Olympics to protest (ironically) the Russian invasion of Afghanistan, he couldn’t get hundreds of U.S. hostages home from Iran, and when he left office after one term we had a record high tax rate (70%) and 21% interest rates on home mortgages.

Then a Republican named Ronald Reagan took over from Jimmy Carter and the hostages were released immediately. By the end of his term our tax rates and interest rates were way down. By increasing our military budget he helped to fell the Soviet Empire.

But that isn’t the end of the story.

Later there was an excellent President named Bill Clinton who also presided over a great economy with low tax rates and interest rates. You could virtually throw a dart at the stock market and make money.

Clinton served two terms and ended on a high note. Then a Republican named GW Bush came along. There were “events” that may or may not justify (no opinion expressed here) what is now a very unpopular war, but either way it drove our economy into the dirt. And that is where we are right now.

So, where am I going with this? Where do YOU want to go?

Two of these Presidents were Democrats, one popular and one a dud.

Two of these Presidents were Republicans, one popular and one a dud.

I don’t know which candidate is better in this most important election of the century, Obama or McCain, but I do believe ideas are more important than party. I know a lot of people are very angry about the Bush years- but an angry electorate elected Jimmy Carter; a notoriously bad one-term President. A corrupt Republican led to a justifiably one-term Democrat – what does that tell you about “party politics?”

I am not trying to persuade you to vote for either candidate. I am just asking you to vote for POLICY over party, and POLICY over the past. Please do your research and vote for the candidate you believe is best for the FUTURE of our country; Obama or McCain.

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