New Ships Due In Miami To Boost Passenger Flows
By Candice Ventra
Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines each plan to add ships in October to their Port of Miami fleets.
Carnival’s Victory, which can carry 2,758 passengers, will sail on Oct. 15, said Vicki Freed, senior vice president of sales & marketing. The 101,509-ton vessel has a nine-story main atrium.
The ship, Ms. Freed said, will depart every Sunday on Eastern and Western Caribbean itineraries, with stops in St. Croix, Grand Cayman, Cozumel and St. Thomas. She said the ship will use Miami as its home port until summer 2001 when it will move to New York.
The addition of the Victory will mean five Carnival vessels embark from Miami.
Royal Caribbean also will increase its number of ships at the port with the addition of the 142,000-ton Explorer of the Seas, said Michele Smith, manager of corporate communications. The Explorer will be the fourth Royal Caribbean ship here.
The 3,100-passenger liner is a sister ship to Voyager of the Seas, which first came to Miami in 1998. Both ships can carry about 1,100 more passengers than the average cruise ship.
>From Miami, Ms. Smith said, the Explorer will travel the Eastern Caribbean every Saturday starting Oct. 28.
Seventeen cruise ships currently dock at Port of Miami, same number as in 1999, said Trenae Floyd, Port of Miami spokesperson. That number remains unchanged after a proposal to tax cruise passengers leaving Miami failed.
The bill would have required passengers taking trips of more than a day to pay $4 a day to help offset the cost of a new stadium for the Florida Marlins baseball team. In an attempt to fight the tax proposal some cruise lines threatened to move ships to other ports.
As part of a ship exchange in May, Carnival plans to bring its Fascination here from San Juan and send the Ecstasy to Los Angeles. The ships are about the same size and this repositioning will not change the total number of ships at the port.
"We are playing musical ships," Ms. Freed said. "By changing ships, repeat visitors have a chance to get a different feel and see different entertainment."
The Fascination will make three- and four-day trips to the Bahamas and Cozumel departing Mondays and Fridays, she said. Built in 1994, it can carry 2,042 passengers.
The 70,000-ton Ecstasy, based at the Port of Miami since it was built in 1991, survived a large fire in 1998 while at sea. The blaze, which originated in the crew’s laundry area, left thousands of passengers stranded at sea for several hours.
After moving to Los Angeles, the Ecstasy will take four-day excursions to Argentina and Mexico.
In 2000 Port of Miami has had an increase in passengers over the past year, although the number of cruise ship dockings has declined, said Ms. Floyd. As of July 31, the annual passenger count at the port was nearly 2.9 million, she said, compared to nearly 2.6 million through July ’99. The number of cruise ship dockings during the same period was 845, down from 862 in the previous year.
Worldwide, the cruise market is booming, industry officials said. According to Cruise Lines International Association based in New York, the market potential for the industry will be between $54 billion and $97 billion in the next five years.
Although only 11% of the U.S. population has never taken a cruise, the industry has seen a 1,000% growth in passenger traffic since 1980, the association’s numbers show. Details: Carnival, (305) 599-2600; Royal Caribbean, (305) 539-6000.