According to new estimates compiled by Cruise Industry News (CIN), North American operators sailing in the Caribbean will increase their capacity in 2002 by 19 percent - nearly doubling a pre-Sept. 11 forecast for 10 percent growth. Incorporating the latest deployment changes, operators will have capacity to carry 5,329,036 passengers in the Caribbean in 2002, compared to 4,478,980 in 2001. At the same time, North American operators will decrease their capacity in the Mediterranean by 41 percent, from 403,153 passengers in 2001 to 239,193 passengers next year. Capacity in Northern and Western Europe will also drop, although not as sharply, from 172,346 passengers this year to 156,911 in 2002.

Following the premise that U.S. passengers will want to cruise closer to home, and avoid air travel when possible, lines have repositioned much of their summer 2002 capacity from Europe and other distant sailing regions into the Caribbean, Panama Canal, Western Mexico and Alaska, preferably sailing from U.S. mainland homeports located in the vicinity of large drive markets. Those lines opting to keep tonnage in Europe have generally moved it to Northern or Western Europe, or to the Western Med.

As of press time, Royal Caribbean International had pulled three ships from the Med, Celebrity Cruises had removed three; Holland America Line one; Princess Cruises had shifted one ship away and laid up another; Norwegian Cruise Line had shifted one; and Royal Olympic Cruises had also pulled one ship.

In addition, now-bankrupt Renaissance Cruises had been the market leader in the Mediterranean, and a strong presence in Northern and Western Europe. That company's closing decreased European capacity by 90,000 passengers - accounting for half of the overall 180,000-passenger regional decrease following Sept. 11.