NEW YORK -- Below
the surface of the traditional cruise industry lies a host of
small, highly targeted niche players that offer an alternative to
tors in this niche, on a good day, accommodate fewer passengers
than just one of todays 3,000-passenger megaships.
their economic impact, in the grand scheme of things, is small. But
theyve been subject to some of the same forces that affect the
fortunes of their bigger brethren, and theyre having a good
executives from the four lines contacted by TravelWeekly.com
declined to cite occupancies or sales volume, they did say that
business is becoming increasingly more buoyant.
companies, we rode the late 90s wave of good fortune and expanded
and then quickly tightened our belts. Now, business is coming back
-- people are traveling again, said Michael McIntosh, a sales and
marketing coordinator for Englewood, N.J.-based Sea Cloud
And just as
terrorism fears led the big cruise lines to develop more
itineraries from close-in domestic ports, the small-ship lines have
benefitted from the post-9/11 surge in demand for domestic
There has been a
renaissance in domestic travel in recent years, and this has
resulted in a very successful 2004, said Maria Prezioso, marketing
director for American Canadian Caribbean Line.
Lines, based in Haddam, Conn., offers a roster of five- to 14-day
itineraries from Maine to Florida aboard the American Glory and the
American Eagle. It, too, has has benefited from the close-to-home
trend of recent years.
the lines marketing manager, said the company has been capitalizing
on the post-9/11 resurgence in patriotism.
People are very
interested in staying on this side of the ocean, and our product
meets that need, Lubrano said.
small-ship segment is small, its big enough to show some product
differentiation, ranging from high-end to unpretentious.
An unusual vessel
at the high end is the four-masted Sea Cloud of Sea Cloud Cruises.
The ship was built by cereal heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post and
her husband, financier E.F. Hutton, in 1931.
incarnation of the vessel, the three-masted Sea Cloud II, was
launched in 2001. Both ships sail on Mediterranean and Caribbean
itineraries while fleet mates, the River Cloud and River Cloud II,
ply European waterways.
On average, per
diems start at $470 per person. McIntosh said the lines typical
clients are wealthy, well educated, well traveled and looking for a
The Sea Cloud
fleet is, for the most part, chartered out to affinity groups and
tour operators such as Abercrombie & Kent and Kalos Golf, which
specializes in golf-themed cruises.
More casual is
the American Canadian Caribbean Line product. The Grande Mariner,
the Grande Caribe and Niagara Prince, offer per diems of about $200
a day for destination-oriented cruises that venture into areas
where larger ships simply cant go.
We cater to the
nonpretentious who want to travel as if they were on their own
private boat, said Prezioso.
She described the
onboard ambience as not just casual but very casual. How casual is that? The alcoholic beverage policy is
reporter Claudette Covey, send e-mail [email protected].