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11.1 million passengers are forecast to cruise on the fleet of the member cruise lines of the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) in 2005, according to the organization's Chairman Andy Stuart, who is also executive vice president of marketing, sales and passenger services for Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL).

Stuart broke the 11.1 million down into 9.4 million passengers originating in North America and 1.7 million originating overseas. He also described the forecast as "realistic" and based on a fleetwide occupancy rate of 105 percent. All the fundamentals of the business are very strong, he added.

Further diversification of homeports and cruise lengths continue at Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises, according to Jamie Haller, director of deployment and itinerary planning.

"The most significant development at Royal Caribbean in 2005," he said, "is our expansion in the Northeast and our continuing diversification of cruise lengths. We now have regular sailings ranging from three to 11 days and up to 14 days when you include our more exotic programs."

"We are focusing on sharpening our message of how good we are," said Bob Dickinson, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines. "When people cruise with us, they rate us significantly higher than people who have not cruised with us. We have a gap between reality and perception.

"We were bottom feeders for many years, but in the past few years we have improved. But many people assume we are what we were 25 to 30 years ago.

Classification societies have two roles: First, to verify that the shipowner gets the product he is paying for and that the yard is building according to rules and regulations, and second, to continuously develop new standards, moving the bar upward, being proactive, according to Karl Morten Wiklund, head of the cruise section at Det Norske Veritas (DNV).

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