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Travel Scene: Cruise Operators are Riding High Seas

Brief: The cruising industry is setting sail into 2017 with high expectations.
According to industry leaders, the outlook is that 2017 may be a historic one, with bookings at an all-time high. That prospect has been advanced by one of the leaders of World Travel Holdings, one of the largest leisure travel operators in the county.

According to Travel Market Report, Brad Tolkin, co-chairman and co-CEO of World Travel Holdings, told a cruise conference that December bookings for 2017 were the highest in the company's history.
 
And giant Carnival Corp., which owns a dozen or so cruise lines, reported that advance bookings for the first three quarters of 2017 were "well ahead" of the prior year and at "considerably higher prices."

And the nation's travel agents also are optimistic. Cruise Lines International Assn., the industry's major marketing organization, reported that 73 percent of agents said they expect sales to increase in 2017 and "fully 27 percent expect increases of 10 percent or higher."

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about 2017 operations, with cruise lines spending hundreds of millions of dollars in new ships and upgrades and a hefty batch of new onboard innovations.

Here are several of the reasons:

Carnival Corp. has just debuted the Carnival Vista, which offers several new features, including the first IMAX theater at sea and the open-air cycling experience SkyRide.

Holland America Line is touting its next Exploration Center program, which offers destination experts at shipboard centers with education and advice. It will highlight sites of interest at each port — Holland sails to 400 ports in 120 countries on all seven continents.

MSC Cruises is banking on the first generation of its new mega-ships, the Meraviglia, which will sail the western Mediterranean. It will have 12 eateries and three pools with 10 different-type staterooms onboard, including connected staterooms that can accommodate up to 10 guests.

A second new MSC ship, the Seaside, which has been specifically designed for warm weather, will debut next December. It boasts a high ratio of outdoor space, a 360-degree ocean-level promenade, a 98-foot bridge on the top deck and with almost 75 percent of balcony staterooms.

Norwegian Cruise Line will debut the second ship in its new Breakaway-Plus Class and the first one built specifically for the fast-growing Chinese market. The Joy, a 3,850-passenger capacity vessel, will feature a number of "firsts," including larger-than-usual balconies.

Princess Cruises also will debut a ship — its second — that is specifically designed for the Chinese market. The ship, the Majestic Princess, will headquarter in Shanghai and will cruise to Japan and Korea. It will feature a glass-floor SeaWalk extending 28 feet over the sea, and a Movies Under the Stars program on the largest outdoor screen at sea.

Viking is expanding its ocean cruising program with new ships Viking Sky and Viking Sun. Viking, of course, is also the largest river-cruising line in the world and continually expands that itinerary.
Source: Post-Bulletin
Tagscruise operators Chinese tourists cruise travel Chinese cruise market China's outbound tourism Carnival Corp.

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