Cruising is big business. I have heard many stories about people that were coming from Europe to North America in search of a better life and what 'ship' life was like. That is not what we would call cruising, that was called survival. Today, the ships are floating cities, with a combined crew and guests of more than a small city.
Here are the statistics from Florida - Caribbean Cruise Association:
The 2012 year-end passenger forecast is that a record 20.3 million passengers cruised globally during the year, with 17.182 million sailing from North America, including 11.684 million who live in the U.S. and Canada. Coupled with an annual occupancy percentage that exceeded 102%, this annual passenger growth for 2012 shows continued consumer interest in cruising and an industry where demand continues to outstrip supply.
I recently returned from a cruise to Alaska. When we booked, we booked a 'room with a view' a window. I have cruised many times, but actually never had a balcony. I have had inside cabins, cabins with a porthole (round) window, and years ago, went on a very old ship and had a full floor to ceiling picture window, but it over looked the walking track and the deck - so we didn't keep it open much!
We had originally booked an outside cabin. As the time to leave was approaching I realized that if you were ever going to have a balcony on a cruise - Alaska would be the time. After some back and forth with the cruise line, we finally were able to secure a balcony cabin for our cruise.
The day in Glacier bay I opted to go up on deck and view the glaciers, but I know that the view from our cabin was equally as beautiful. the bonus to being on the deck is that the ship turns around so that everyone can have a view of the glaciers. When you on your balcony, you have to wait until the ship comes around again for the view. When you are up on deck, you can just walk to the other side to see the view continuously.
We walked to an ancient totem pole exhibit, which took us through the residential area of town, where there were great places to take pictures of houses, old cars, and of course the salmon spawning. Watching them swim in the creek, and then jump out of the water and fight the currents of the small waterfalls in the creek was incredible. You could spend hours just watching the salmon.
By the time we got back to the ship it was lunch time and all I could think about was room service on the balcony. That is exactly what we did.
It was a very busy port, both in the water and in the air. There were three maybe four ships in port that day and taking a seaplane excursion seemed to be the thing to do. They were landing and taking off constantly while we were sitting on our balcony. The picture you see here of the houses right on the water was our view from the balcony in Ketchikan.
Now that I have experience balcony life on a cruise, it will be hard to cruise again any other way. That is what I tell my clients. I also try to break down the cost difference between a picture window vs. a balcony. If you are cruising in a destination that will allow you to really reap the benefits of the balcony, like sitting out and watching a sunset, ordering room service and enjoying the view in a port or just being able to wake up in the morning and step outside to your private view of the sea, it is all worth it.
Alaska really is a beautiful destination, with unique ports and excursions...stay tuned for more about Alaska!