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Huge Cruise Ships Prepare For Launch But Face Uncertain Waters

After watching footage of Royal Caribbean's new Oasis of the Seas 5,400-passenger luxury liner a couple of weeks ago, Marketing Daily's Karl Greenberg wondered if it really needed to leave port, being that "it encompasses within it a good percentage of the Earth's surface." Well, its 20 stories, 13 retail shops, 21 pools and 24 restaurants are nonetheless slipping out tomorrow on an inaugural seven-day cruise of the Caribbean, and the Journal's Mike Esterl reports that it and other seaworthy behemoths that will launch soon are entering choppy waters.

Cruise lines have been offering steep discounts during the recession and the amount they make on each passenger is down about 15% this year. Although travel agents are optimistic about 2010, fourth-quarter sales remain tepid.

Royal Caribbean CEO Richard Fain takes the long view, pointing out that ups and downs are inevitable over the 30-year-or-so lifespan of any cruiser. "I think Oasis of the Seas will be one of the highest returns on investment our industry has ever seen," he says. And Esterl reports that Oasis has had strong early bookings and almost double-digit percentage-price premiums over smaller rivals. People like the big boats after all, it seems.



Read the whole story at Wall Street Journal »

1 comment about "Huge Cruise Ships Prepare For Launch But Face Uncertain Waters ".
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  1. Bill Chambers from Bright Chapel Financial Services, December 4, 2009 at 2:35 p.m.

    For over 30 years the cruise lines have kept building bigger and bigger cruise ships and the media "experts", like our boy Karl here, have done their hand wringing about how the ships are just WAY too big now. And yet, the cruise industry just keeps growing and attracting more and more guests. I guess what I am saying is that after thirty years of whiney journalistas I have gotten fed up with writers who seem to think their mission must be to find something to bitch about. I would certainly ask the head waiter to relocate me should I ever discover Karl, or anyone similar, and I were tablemates.

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