"What's a cruisoid?" you're probably saying. And a very good question it is. It sounds, somehow, like a unit of currency for a small, South American country. "I'll give you four crusoids for that ugly T-shirt and not a penny more," said the cruiser to the street vendor. Or perhaps it is an irregular verb in some half-forgotten dialect. Remember those French classes? cruisoid, cruisons, cruisez, cruisettes.
No, it's neither of those things. "Cruisoid" is a word of my own coining, marrying the words cruise and factoid. A factoid is a bit of information about a particular topic. You presumably already know what a cruise is -- if not, boy are you missing the boat (as the old saying goes). So, marrying the two terms, a cruisoid is a factoid about cruising. Future columns may have cruisoids sprinkled through them. To introduce you to the concept, this month's column is almost entirely composed of cruisoids -- most of them having to do with the future of the cruise line industry. So, as they say in France, "allons," and let's get on with it:
Cruisoid 1: Last year, 5.05 million cruise passengers sailed. If a 7-day cruise is the average, then about 105,000 brand-new passengers set foot aboard ship each week during the past year. Were you one of them?
Cruisoid 2: Orders for new ships have been placed as follows: 1999: 15; 2000: 13; 2001: 12; 2002: 4; 2003: 1. Only three of these 45 new ships represent letters of intent rather than firm contracts, which means that an astounding 42 new cruise ships have definitely been ordered for delivery during the next five years!
Cruisoid 3: If all of the new cruise ships ordered for delivery during the next five years were docked end to end, they would stretch 31,634.1 feet -- or nearly six miles.
Cruisoid 4: There will be a total of 36,882 cabins on cruise ships to be delivered during the next five years. With an average of two passengers per cabin, each week 73,764 new passengers could sail.
Cruisoid 5: If you've been paying attention, you know, therefore, that the number of berths in the cruise industry is scheduled to grow by over 50% in just five years!
Cruisoid 6: What is the total cost of all new cruise ships to be delivered during the next five years? If you guessed $13,634,100,000 you'd be right on the money (and a lot of money it is). For those of you who have never seen that many zeros in one number, it's thirteen point six billion dollars.
Cruisoid 7: Only thirteen of those ships will be built at tonnages lower than 50,000 grt, so what all the industry analysts have been telling you is true: cruising will become an increasingly mega-ship experience for most cruisers, particularly after older, smaller ships retire.
Cruisoid 8: So who is growing the fastest over the next five years? If you lump Carnival and Holland America together (they're both owned by the same corporation), Carnival intends to build eight ships. If you add Celebrity and Royal Caribbean together (ditto re ownership), RCI intends to build eight ships. The parent corporations of these lines are therefore in a tie for first place. Norwegian is next with six ships.
Cruisoid 9: But who is growing the fastest? If you say, "dummy, you already answered that," you're wrong. The size of a line should be calculated based on the number of berths available. Carnival's eight new ships will have 8,022 cabins. Royal Caribbean International's eight new ships will have 9,571 cabins. That makes RCI the fastest-growing line in my book.
Cruisoid 10: Seven ships to be launched before 2003 will be over 100,000 gross registered tons. Three of those will be Voyager-class monsters launched by RCI, each at 142,000 grt and carrying over 3,000 passengers. They will also cost $500 million each.
Cruisoid 11: Is bigger always more expensive? Not at ResidenSea, which is launching The World of ResidenSea in April, 2001. This unique ship will be a floating condominium association, with 469 "apartments" available for purchase. (Don't even ask how much they cost.) The cost for this 86,000 grt vessel? $545 million.
Cruisoid 12: During the last twenty-eight years, over 50 million passengers have cruised. Over ten percent of those passengers cruised during 1998.
Cruisoid 13: The median income for all cruisers is $58,800 annually.
Cruisoid 14: 73 percent of all cruisers are married (which explains why they need all that money).
Cruisoid 15: 11.3% of Americans have cruised.
Cruisoid 16: It takes an average of 8 hours for a ship to pass through the Panama Canal.
Cruisoid 17: The Queen Elizabeth 2 has sailed over four million nautical miles since being launched. (She has also carried more than 2 million passengers.)
That's it from the world of cruisoids, for now. Thanks are due to the Cruise Line Industry Association for some of the base data in this column (I put the base data into spreadsheet form to perform many of the calculations.)
There will be a test on verb declensions next month. Once again, how do you conjugate the verb "cruisoid?"
If you can't remember, just don't forget how to conjugate the verb "to cruise."
Brent Betit is a freelance writer who lives in Vermont with his wife and two young children.
Brent has written many SeaLetter columns on such subjects as sea-going language, cruising with kids and cruise etiquette. To find all of Brent's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, use the SeaLetter Search Engine entering "Brent Betit" as your search phrase.
Brent is always interested in your comments and suggestions and may be reached at: Brent@sealetter.com.
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