Cruise Passengers Giving Up On Airlines?

Rising air fares are prompting cruise passengers to drive hundreds of miles to their ports of embarkation instead of flying there, Gene Sloan writes in USA Today’s Cruise Log blog.

One reader responded:

My wife and I have decided to not fly to Port Canaveral, FL but instead to drive from Pittsburgh PA. Yes, it will add a full day to our trip, and an overnight stay along the way, but even with the price of gas, we will be saving about $600 over flying there …

Another consideration for cruise passengers is the rising cost of checking lugggage onto planes. Cruises tend to demand a bigger wardrobe than land vacations do, what with formal nights and all that. I know that I pack much more heavily for cruises than for other trips.

I could see a few changes that could come of all this:

The recent increase in cruises from alternate and seasonal ports may accelerate. If people in New England don’t want to fly to Miami for a cruise, the answer may be more cruises out of New York and Boston.

The shift of ships to Europe in the summer may start to reverse if American passengers are not willing to pay for fares across the Atlantic. Some Cruise Log readers commented that they are canceling plans for Mediterranean cruises. Arthur Frommer recently suggested that the market for those itineraries was looking soft.

Cruise lines may reconsider the laundry services they offer on board, so that passengers can pack more lightly. Last I knew, Carnival and Princess ships had self-service washing machines and dryers; most other lines did not.

Otherwise, passengers may pack more lightly – and probably more casually. This would accelerate the trend away from formal nights and dressing for dinner.

There’s no way this can’t help Southwest Airlines, which still permits passengers to check two bags at no extra cost. 


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