by Amy Martinez
Updated 7 yearss ago
Cruise lines fight 'Caribbean fatigue' with new ports of call.
Before it became mainstream, the idea of taking a Caribbean cruise was such a novelty to most Americans that the variety of destinations hardly mattered.
Now, with more than 73 million Americans having taken a cruise, mostly in the Caribbean, straying from the beaten path is essential to continued growth for cruise companies.
Bob Levinstein, chief executive of CruiseCompete.com, says the industry is grappling with "Caribbean fatigue" after two decades of rapid growth. "The Caribbean has a lot of islands, but if you've done five or six cruises over the years, you may lose interest," he says.
Giora Israel, senior vice president of global port and destination development at Miami-based Carnival, says repeat customers amount to two-thirds of the capacity on some cruises and need new experiences. "There are beautiful parts of the Caribbean that are completely undiscovered," he says. "We need to diversify our product."
Carnival, the world's largest cruise ship operator, already calls on 75 Caribbean ports in 32 countries and territories and has at least two more destinations in the works.
The parent company of Carnival Cruise Lines is building a $65-million port at Amber Cove on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. And it recently announced a deal with the Haitian government to develop a $70-million port in Tortuga, an island off Haiti's northern coast.
Meanwhile, Carnival's top competitors also are refreshing their Caribbean itineraries: Royal Caribbean has joined with the Barbadian government to explore building a cruise port at Sugar Point, and Norwegian Cruise Line is developing a new port in Belize.
Although Tortuga represents Carnival's first foray into Haiti, Royal Caribbean has stopped in Labadee, a private resort on the country's northern coast, for many years. A stark contrast to the intense poverty in Haiti, Labadee offers quiet beaches and family-friendly activities, including a zip line, roller coaster and water park.
Some new destinations will have to be marketed carefully, Levinstein says. He predicts Carnival will downplay Haiti's name in marketing materials to make travelers more comfortable with the destination, for example. "They're not going to market it as Haiti. They're going to market it as Tortuga Island because of all the negative connotations," he says.
Profile Melitta USA
Melitta USA, part of Germany's Melitta Group, produces coffee filters in Clearwater for the North American market. It also runs its North American operations out of Clearwater, overseeing a New Jersey coffee roasting plant and a large sales-distribution network made up of retail chains and specialty stores. In all, Melitta employs 66 people in Clearwater, where it can produce 300,000 packages of filters daily - representing roughly 100 million cups of coffee. Despite a boom in the single-serve coffee market, many traditional drip coffee drinkers still need the paper filters, says Donna Gray, public relations director at Melitta USA. To capitalize on growth in the market, however, Melitta now makes one-cup coffee pods in New Jersey.
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