San Francisco, for example, has been proactive and positive about attracting and recruiting cruise ships, at least in the media, seeing them as a necessary component not only to its economy, but its hotel scene as well.The city will open a new port in 2014 and signed an agreement with Princess Cruises to have them in town year round. According to reports, "the Grand Princess alone will bring an additional 130,000 cruise guests to San Francisco in 2013, giving the city a 65% boost in cruise guests."
So, if you're a hotel, don't those numbers make you happy? A bit giddy, even?
We bring this up because we think it's an interesting debate, one that will certainly continue to play out over the next few years -- especially if these major mishaps keep occurring. Obviously, we want to see hotel scenes improve, and we also see cruise ships as hotels at sea, but we're wondering if this is a slippery approach. Cities are spending money to try to make themselves more attractive for the ships, digging deeper channels and bigger ports to bring in more business. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't (Mobile, Alabama, spent over $20 million to bring in Carnival only to have them walk away). And, money aside, we've been to ports from which cruise ships have sucked up the culture (throw a dart at many a Caribbean island, for an example).
Our question this Friday is a bit of a head scratcher: Where do you stand? Is the cruise ship market worth the monetary, environmental, and cultural prices paid by the city? We happen to think so overall, and that's why you'll be seeing our 2013 Cruise Guide next week. Because as most good travelers know, the best time to travel is just after a drama. That's when everyone is on their Ps and Qs and quality is at its best.
[Photos: Kim Severson/Tampaport.com]