The Sunday shopping junket to the mall for crew members of ships that sail weekly to Port Canaveral is now more convenient. As part of the recent Crew Appreciation Day, retailers at Merritt Square implemented new earlier hours for all shoppers in order to accommodate the crew passengers who need to get back to their ships. The retailers are among the area companies that recognize the value and impact of the international clientele from ships and the millions of dollars they spend locally.
“Crew members provide us with a strong and consistent customer base,” says Maggie Cook, marketing director for Merritt Square. “They purchase items for themselves and their families back home.” A typical cruise ship can have crew members from as many as 60 different nations. Some of the items popular with crew members include Ipods and laptops, beach wear, sandals and athletic shoes, backpacks, and lots of vitamins.
Other area businesses that benefit from crew spending include ground transportation companies, restaurants, attractions, and package shipping companies. According to a 2006 Business Research and Economic Advisors survey, crew spending accounts for 12 percent of the $2 billion economic impact of the cruise industry in the United States.
“The cruise industry has a historyof economic stimulus for our community,” says Port Commissioner Tom Goodson, chairman of the Canaveral Port Authority Board. “The goods and services purchased for the ships, the local spending of the ship employees, and the passengers cruising attracts to Central Florida help generate jobs.”