Cruise fever shows no signs of slowing down this year; demand for cruise holidays is rising, while in Britain more of us than ever before are booking holidays on the ocean wave for the very first time.
Cruise holidays are also part of the diverse timeshare holiday lifestyle, and a new study which analysed the positive knock-on-effect of cruise spending in 21 destinations makes for interesting reading. Clearly, as cruise holidays gain even more fans, these passengers (and crew) are in turn helping boost local economies.
The US research conducted by BREA (Business Research and Economic Advisors) shows tourism in 2011-2012 generated over $1.9 billion in direct expenditures, 45,000 jobs and $728 million in employee wages among the destinations surveyed.
"This certainly is wonderful news, but it doesn’t surprise me," said Michele M. Paige, FCCA president, during the 19th annual Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association’s Conference and Trade Show in Curaçao. "FCCA members are known for seeing opportunities."
The number crunching revealed:
• Cruise passengers (15.44 million of them!) spent $1.48 billion in 21 participating destinations, with per passenger expenditures ranging from $185.40 in St. Maarten to $27.10 in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and averaging $95.92. An average of 52 percent of passengers bought shore excursions, generating $270 million in total payments to tour operators. Other notable purchases include watches and jewellery ($583 million); clothing ($158 million); food and beverage ($106.5 million) and local crafts and souvenirs ($87 million).
• Crew members (2.7 million) also spent over $261 million across the same destinations, with per crew expenditures ranging from $138.30 in the U.S. Virgin Islands and $21.40 in St. Vincent & the Grenadines and averaging $96.98.
• Cruise lines spent an estimated $246.9 million in participating destinations for port fees and taxes, utilities, navigation services and ship supplies.
"These expenditures have a direct impact on local employment and wages," Andrew Moody, principal of Business Research & Economic Advisors, said. "Local businesses … create additional jobs and income."
BREA surveyed Antigua & Barbuda; Aruba; The Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; British Virgin Islands; Cayman Islands; Colombia; Costa Rica; Curacao; Dominica; Dominican Republic; Grenada; Honduras; Nicaragua; San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Kitts & Nevis; St. Maarten; St. Vincent & the Grenadines; Turks & Caicos; and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Michele Paige also noted that polled passengers’ experience showed a high satisfaction rate with their cruising experience and a strong indication that they are likely to cruise again in the region. Passengers told BREA that they were "very satisfied" with:
• Overall destination visit
• Shore excursions.
• Friendliness of residents and courtesy of employees
• Initial shoreside welcome
• Historic sites/museums
• Local transportation
Both RCI and Interval International have information on cruises, and Club La Costa has a dedicated Travel Club with experienced staff who can advise on the right type and cruise destinations for couples or families.