The cruise industry may be sailing in the wake of a tremendous growth forecast for the Asia/Pacific region predicted by the World Tourism Organization (WTO), which estimates that Asia/Pacific will see nearly 400 million international tourist arrivals annually by 2020, compared to 153 million in 2004. Anticipated to increase at a rate of 6.5 percent per year, the WTO predicts that the region will be second only to Europe in terms of foreign visitors and that the world’s top destination will be China.

European cruising is on the upswing. According to the European Cruise Council (ECC), 2.8 million Europeans sailed on ocean cruises in 2004 – an increase of 5 percent over 2003. Fred Hitchins, director of IRN Research, the company that provides the ECC with its statistics, pointed out that while 2005 will see some increase, 2006 and 2007 will grow at a higher clip. But in addition to the prospect of future growth, yet another trend exists among European cruisers, travel agents in the top four European source markets told Cruise Industry News: the demand for newer ships.

In a perfect world, Norwalk virus doesn’t exist. Neither do bedbugs. Bad weather is a mere figment of the imagination, and seasickness? Not a chance.

Unfortunately, these are all things that can – and do – happen aboard cruise ships, and to the millions of passengers who set sail each year. So it comes as somewhat of a surprise that for the most part, travel agents say they receive very few complaints when their customers return home after a cruise. It could be that the passengers who do have a beef  take it directly to the cruise lines, but by and large, cruising seems to leave people very satisfied.

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