Every year we find that the cruise industry continues to push the bar. Marine operations continues to explore and introduce new technology, systems and procedures that make the ships safer and more efficient, while also saving fuel and reducing emissions. Hotel operations is introducing new concepts and services – not taking a back seat to any shoreside resort or hotel. Cruise ports are also evolving, updating and building new infrastructure, even whole new ports, such as Falmouth in Jamaica.
We have talked to executives responsible for marine and hotel operations, as well as port officials in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Panama and Norway; everybody is enthusiastic, energetic and working to make their products and services even better.
But that is not as easy as it sounds. The cruise lines are working in a much tougher economic environment, where despite increased cost and inflationary pressures, they are innovating and offering passengers more. We also assigned one of our reporters to dig up the latest new trends and ideas from Las Vegas. After all, the desert city has inspired many of the innovations found at sea.
Ports are also facing financial pressures, but expansion projects are underway in Charleston, New York, Los Angeles and Miami, as well as in Mexico, Panama and Oslo, while other ports have just completed projects. Pacific Mexico ports are joining forces with cruise lines and California ports to rebuild their traffic, which has dropped off significantly in light of negative media reports, combined with a weaker economy in California and neighboring states. Alaska is seeing a come-back after the Governor went to bat for the industry and the much disputed head tax was reduced.
Lest we forget, ships operate in an environment that can be welcoming, alluring, even seductive, but also hostile – the sea – and in this issue we are covering potential risk factors and preventive measures, from rules and regulations to the latest equipment and procedures. We want to thank the Coast Guard, the National Transportation Safety Board, the Norwegian Maritime Directorate and the classification societies for sharing their insight and expertise with our readers. We also want to credit Hurtigruten for the openness they showed following the recent incident with one of their ships.
All told, the cruise industry is very dynamic and continues to evolve with higher standards for product delivery and safety. This coming year will undoubtedly bring new ideas and innovations.