With a record number of new ships entering service in 1988, the overall cruise market will be affected by overcapacity at least through 1991. (CIN, 2/18/87)

According to CIN estimates, there are currently 62,000 cruise berths being marketed on a regular basis in the United States, with an additional 7,600 berths coming on line in 1988, representing an increase in capacity of almost 12.5 percent over a twelve month period. Projected increases for 1989 and 1990 are for at least 5,000 berths each year, giving an annual growth rate of about 7 percent. (In contrast, demand is estimated to grow at a rate of 5 percent annually.)

The various cruise ship "categories" are poised for uneven capacity growth projections, however. While the traditional Caribbean cruise market is comprised of some 35,000 berths, next year an estimated 4,360 berths will be added to this market, representing an increase of about 12.5 percent. (At the same time, at least two cruise lines are moving ships to the Caribbean, which may inflate the growth rate here even further.)

Cruise line executives are forecasting deployment of ships on new Caribbean itineraries and to new homeports; more theme- and niche-type cruises; and the deployment of some ships elsewhere on a year-round basis or seasonally.

American coastal cruising will see an increase from 843 to 981 berths, or about 16 percent. No additional new ships are under contract.

In the Hawaiian market, there will be a 40 percent increase in berth capacity in 1988 from 1596 to 2,234. No additional capacity is forecasted.

The upscale, luxury ship market is composed of some 3,320 berths and will see an additional 740 in 1988 for a 23 percent increase; and in 1989 at least 200 more berths.

The upscale market for small ships may see the most dramatic growth from 232 berths in 1987 to 372 in 1988 to 612 in 1989, or some 263 percent over the two year period.

Other ships will be deployed seasonally in the larger, traditional cruise market; or they are in specialty markets.

These growth estimates represent minimum projections inasmuch as several cruise lines have options for additional ships and others have announced plans to build but have not yet contracted.