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THE GEOGRAPHY OF CRUISE SHIPPING: ITINERARIES, CAPACITY DEPLOYMENT AND PORTS OF CALLJean-Paul RodrigueDept. of Global Studies & Geography, Hofstra University, New York, USATheo NotteboomITMMA - University of Antwerp and Antwerp Maritime Academy, BelgiumIAME 2012 ConferenceTaipei, September 6-8 2012

ship happens
Ship Happens…

Costa Concordia disaster

Costa Cruises: -25% bookings (May 2011/12)

global cruise passengers carried 1990 2011
Global Cruise Passengers Carried, 1990-2011
  • Cruise industry emerged in the late 1960s
  • Mass market using large vessels and adding more revenue-generating services onboard.
  • Symbol of the globalization of the tourism industry (e.g. Weaver, 2005; Wood, 2000).


cruise shipping in literature
Cruise shipping in literature
  • Cruise shipping in literature:
    • Seasonality of the world cruise market (Charlier and McCalla, 2006)
    • Industrial organization of cruise shipping (Papatheodorou, 2006)
    • Demand for cruise tourism (Petrick and Li, 2006),
    • Supply of cruise shipping (see e.g. Wilkinson, 2006 and Wood, 2000)
    • Economic significance of cruise tourism (Dwyer and Forsyth, 1996; 1998 and Dwyer, Douglas, and Livaic, 2004)
    • Cruise ship passenger spending patterns (Douglas and Douglas, 2004)
    • Operational studies:
      • Optimal routing of cruise ships (see e.g. Hersh and Ladany, 1989)
      • Cruise ship port selection process (Marti, 1990)
      • Optimal cruise-liner passenger cabin pricing policy (Ladany and Arbel, 1991).
    • The service offerings and locational qualities of cruise ports:
      • McCalla(1998): site and situation requirements of cruise ports
      • Vagellasand Pallis (2010): different services provided by 20 European passenger ports
      • Guiand Russo (2011): structure of cruise value chains and the regional articulation of land-based cruise services.
  • Geography of cruise shipping remains an under-researched academic field in maritime and tourism studies.
focus of paper
Focus of paper
  • This paper focuses on capacity deployment and itineraries in two major cruise markets: the Caribbean and the Mediterranean.
  • We argue that:
    • the cruise industry sells itineraries, not destinations, implying a level of flexibility in the selection of ports of call
    • The two cruise markets are interconnected in an operational manner
    • Cruise ports can be classified based on the role they serve within their regions.
market share of main cruise lines 2011 horizontal integration and the illusion of diversity
Market Share of Main Cruise Lines, 2011: Horizontal Integration and the Illusion of Diversity
the global cruise port system
The Global Cruise Port System


A Supply-Based Industry

the impact of shoreside power coldironing
The impact of shoreside power/coldironing
  • Large differences in CO2 emissions:
    • From 93 to 615 kg of CO2 per passenger-day
    • From 199 to 1,314 g CO2 per passenger–km
  • Juneau in Alaska was the first (2001)
  • Obstacles:
    • Challenges a city’s power grid
    • Investment costs (also for retro-fitting ships)
    • the cost of shore power
    • the absence of international standards for shore power systems.
  • Environmental regulations in urban areas => move to less urban areas
revenue and expenses per average cruiser 2011
Revenue and Expenses per Average Cruiser, 2011

On-board services: 20-30% of revenues

Looking for Fuel-Efficient Routes:

17 knots x 14 hours= 200 nm is ideal

seven is the magic number duration of north american cruises in nights 2011
Seven is the Magic Number: Duration of North American Cruises (in nights), 2011

Sweet Spot (47% of all cruises)

Bahamas & Western Caribbean from Florida

South Pacific

selected cruise itineraries caribbean
Selected Cruise Itineraries, Caribbean

3-5 nights / 2-3 port calls


History / Culture

Market proximity

7 nights / 3-5 port calls

selected cruise itineraries mediterranean
Selected Cruise Itineraries, Mediterranean

World class cultural amenities

Market proximity

Diversified sub-regions


A complex vessel deployment strategySilver Wind (Silversea Cruises), LOA = 157m, beam = 21.5m 296 guests in very luxurious conditions

No. of port calls

Source: own compilation based on schedules

simple vessel deployment strategies
Simple vessel deployment strategies
  • Verytightschedules => schedulereliability!
  • Stability in the sailing schedule of ships: not only linked to vessel size, but also to the strategies of the cruise operators and cost and technical considerations
conclusion live by the supply perish by the supply
Conclusion: Live by the Supply, Perish by the Supply?
  • Unique characteristics of the cruise industry:
    • Supply push strategy of cruise operators; ‘creating’ demand by providing new capacity (ships).
    • Itineraries, not destinations. Specific regional and cultural experiences offered through a combination of sailing time and choice of ports of call.
    • Expand and capture revenue streams by offering on board goods and services as well as shore-based excursions.
    • Adapt to seasonal and fundamental changes in the demand; repositioning ships (seasonal) and changing the configuration of port calls (fundamental).