The geography of cruise shipping : itineraries capacity deployment and ports of call
Institute for Transport en Maritime Management (ITMMA)
Asian Logistics Round Table 2012 Conference (ALRT 2012), University of British Columbia (UBC), Vancouver, 14-15 June 2012
University of Antwerp
In the past decades, the cruise industry developed into a mass market using large vessels and adding more revenue-generating passenger services onboard. It is a highly concentrated business both in terms of players (i.e. four players accounting for 96% of the market) and markets (i.e. Caribbean and Mediterranean are the key markets). Under such circumstances vessel deployment strategies and itinerary design by cruise operators are primordial and are affected by market circumstances and requirements and by pure operational considerations. This paper focuses on capacity deployment and itineraries in two major cruise markets: the Caribbean and the Mediterranean through an analysis of itineraries and ship deployment. We argue that the cruise industry sells itineraries, not destinations, implying a greater flexibility in the selection of ports of call. The paper also reveals that the two cruise markets are not functioning independently but are interconnected in an operational manner, particularly through the repositioning of vessel units to cope with variations in seasonal demand among the geographical markets. Next to analyzing itineraries and capacity deployment strategies, the paper proposes a classification of cruise ports based on the role they serve within their regions.