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Old March 16th, 2010, 04:03 PM
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Default State of the Industry

It's a very good thing that the "State of the Cruise Industry" is much more exciting than the "official" opening of Cruise Shipping Miami conference's "State of the Industry" forum,.

Paul already listed the panel participants, so no need for me to repeat.

It started off well with Richard Sasso of MSC talking about the evolution of the industry over the past 35 years; going from converted ocean lines to 200+ purpose built ships sailing the world's waters today. He showed slides of a ship's cabin from 35 years ago, with a small porthole and bunk beds, built directly into the superstructure. Then a picture of the "spa", with two bicycles and a couple of free weights. This was followed by slides of today's spas and NCL's "New Wave" cabins. The visual differences were quite stunning, quite drastic, and quite amazing, that the industry has gone that far in just 35 years.

He showed a brochure picture from 1975 that had passengers playing shuffleboard. "Why shuffleboard?" he said... "Because that is ALL we had". He then went on to credit Princess and the TV show the Love Boat for taking the cruise industry directly into people's homes.

While Paul has given you the bit of "newsy" items that were touched on, overall I felt it was all a bit short on substance. And certainly no bit "earthshattering" news yet.

The event did get more interesting when Stein Kruse of Holland America was quite blunt and direct in his critiscism of Alaska. It was particulary pointed because the present governor of Alaska (not Sarah) is in attendance, and it is the first time a governor of a state has attended this conference. (Must have heard I was going to be here).

Mr. Kruse pointed out that during the 2009 season, with cutbacks already put in place by the cruise lines to Alaska sailings, the Alaska cruise market declined by 17%. He very directly pointed out that the cruise lines own "mobile assets" and they are very good at moving them about the world. This certainly seemed like a public shot across the bow at Alaska. We'll have to see what the reaction is when there is an Alaska forum tomorrow.

I did accept a lunch invitation from Hurtigurten Cruises of Norway, and it was interesting to learn more about them.

More on that later though, as I'm headed down to the trade show floor to see what I can steal.
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