ruise operators have long believed the
key to attracting younger vacationers unfamiliar with the cruise
format is by offering shorter cruise itineraries from two to five
Unlike cruises of seven days or longer, shorter itineraries
allow new cruisers to sample a seagoing vacation without committing
to a full week.
The industry's swing toward shorter itineraries is backed up by
According to statistics from the Cruise Lines International
Association, passengers opting for cruise itineraries of two to
five days in length grew an incredible 631.7% between 1980 and 2000
(347,000 to 2,539,000 passengers).
Moreover, two- to five-day cruises now account for just over
one-third of all itineraries, growing 12.6% from 24.3% of all
cruises in 1980 to 36.9% in 2000.
the same period, the three other major length categories tracked by
CLIA -- six- to eight-day cruises, nine- to 17-day voyages and
those of 18 days or longer, all lost market share by at least
Short cruises are key to the cruise lines' expansion efforts;
since fewer than 6% of North Americans have sampled a cruise,
shorter itineraries are more attractive to potential passengers who
aren't sure if they'll enjoy the cruise format.
Vacationers in search of short-cruise options are in luck.
Due in large part to the industry's unprecedented fleet
expansion, more ships are deployed on short itineraries than at any
time in history.
Carnival Cruise Lines, for example, offers three- and four-day
Bahamas and western Caribbean cruises from Miami aboard the
2,040-passenger Ecstasy and three- and four-day cruises from Port
Canaveral, Fla., aboard the 2,040-passenger Fantasy.
In the four- and five-day market, Carnival added a series of
western Caribbean cruises departing from Tampa, Fla., aboard the
1,486-passenger Jubilee, and western Caribbean cruises from
Carnival also offers four- and five-day western Caribbean
cruises from Miami aboard Imagination.
Cruising's second-largest operator, Royal Caribbean Cruises,
also offers a diverse group of short-cruise options.
From Miami, the 2,350-passenger Majesty of the Seas offers
three- and four-night Bahamas cruises.
Royal Caribbean's 2,250-passenger Sovereign of the Seas,
meanwhile, will cruise to the Bahamas on three- and four-day
itineraries departing from Port Canaveral.
Also, Royal Caribbean's 1,600-passenger Nordic Empress offers
three- and four-night Caribbean cruises from San Juan while
1,500-passenger Viking Serenade embarks on three- and four-night
Mexico cruises from Los Angeles.
Royal Caribbean's newest ship, the 2,100-passenger Radiance of
the Seas, will offer short-cruise itineraries in the Pacific
Northwest this fall.
At Norwegian Cruise Line, the 1,518-passenger Norwegian Sea
offers three-, four- and five-day Bahamas cruises from Miami.
Despite the recent bankruptcy of Premier Cruise Line, which
offered short-cruise itineraries for the budget market, there
remains a low-price operator offering short cruises to the
Imperial Majesty Cruise Line operates the OceanBreeze on
two-night Bahamas cruises from Port Everglades, Fla.
OceanBreeze's short sailings have grown in popularity since
1999, the line's first year of operation.
In 2000, the 984-passenger OceanBreeze carried 130,000
passengers compared with 120,000 in 1999.