Although Richard Fain is CEO of Royal Caribbean, his comments on Wall Street yesterday are probably applicable to all the major cruise lines.
In an interview with various media outlets, Mr. Fain stated he expects the number of international travelers to overtake the number of domestic passengers within the next two years. This means far more people from Europe are cruising, as well as new markets in South America and even China is a developing story.
"We go where we are wanted, and we are growing entirely overseas and have no growth in the United States right now." The biggest growth has been in the U.K.
I wonder if aversion to air travel has anything to do with it; there are only so many places you can go from the U.S. without flying. I know I never used to even factor flying into a cruise decision--now it's a very big deal. I've nixed several cruises in the past few years just because flying has become so unpleasant.
I know flying no longer holds the romance it once did, at least for me. Frankly I wish cruise lines would offer charter flights with improved food and more passenger room. I'd gladly use it over commercial air for flying to a cruise in Europe or Asia. It would also make things more convenient, with the luggage being taken care of, ground transfers, etc.
But of course if it was profitable they'd be doing it.
One of our best cruises ever included a Princess charter from New York to Barcelona, and Istanbul back to N.Y., and it was great for exactly the reasons you mention. We even got an upgrade to business class on the commercial flight from L.A. to N.Y. because they hadn't seated us together; so it was just a great trip all the way around.
Well, I don't pretend to be a cruise line CEO but even I can figure out that its less expensive to buy blocks of seats on commercial carriers than run your on airline.
Even if you bough a bankrupt airline you probably couldn't be profitable against the big boys.
What they could do though is pay the baggage fees and wrap the transport into the package and provide an "all inclusive" air transfer service. Once you put your bag on the airplane you don't have to worry about it again until they deliver it to your stateroom.. I'd pay a bit more for having all of that arranged for me.