Despite warnings this holiday season, 2.4 million people will be flying and even more will be on the road. Travelers with pent up demand are heading somewhere—anywhere—away from where they’ve spent too much time, to where they haven’t spent enough time, whether it’s home to see family or just a much-needed change.
My husband and I will be among the masses flying across this beautiful country in December to see our grandchildren. That being said, what might be good for us isn’t necessarily good for everyone. I believe travelers know how to gauge their own risk. As a travel advisor, I have even signed up for a test cruise to help the industry move forward. Am I worried? No, not at all. With the safety protocols in place, cruise ships are most likely safer than my own home and I know they are safer than my grocery store where I have found myself every week this year.
Domestic trips top the charts followed by Mexico and the Caribbean. The U.S. remains the most popular destination, while Turks and Caicos is the most popular international destination right now, and the Bahamas and Costa Rica are not far behind. All-inclusive resorts are a huge success this year because they’re a short flight away, their rates are lower than normal, and they’re open for business. Another travel option is private vacation rentals and villas in the U.S. and Caribbean. If you’re tired of the beach, try a ski resort or private rental in the Rockies this winter.
Now, I’d like to share with you a few things about the cruise industry you might not know. Last year nearly 14 million passengers embarked on leisure cruises from U.S. ports and many more set sail from ports around the world. More than 55.5 billion dollars was generated while creating 47 million American jobs and providing more than 24 million dollars wages in 2019.
While the cruise industry has been a vital part of the U.S. economy, the truth is, it all really began in New York more than 200 years ago when the Black Ball Line in 1818, was the first shipping company to offer regularly scheduled service from the U.S. to England and they were the first to show any interest in passenger comfort. By the 1830s, steamships entered the transatlantic market of passengers as well as mail transport. English companies dominated the market at this time, led by the British and North American Royal Mail Steam Packet (later the Cunard Line). On July 4, 1840, Britannia, the first ship under the Cunard name, left Liverpool with a cow on board to supply fresh milk to the passengers on the 14-day transatlantic crossing. The Mayflower carrying immigrants from England to New York in 1620 took 66 days.
By the early 20th century, elegant accommodations and activities were created to minimize the discomfort of travel on the high seas and extremes in weather as much as possible. The Cunard Line of England eventually started the tradition of dressing for dinner and advertised the romance of the voyage. However, speed was still the deciding factor in the design of these ships in the early days. The White Star Line, owned by American financier J.P. Morgan, introduced the most luxurious passenger ships ever seen with the Olympic (complete with swimming pool and tennis court) and the Titanic. Eventually, space and passenger comfort took precedence over speed in the design of these ships, resulting in larger, more stable liners. The advent of pleasure cruises is linked to the year 1844 and a new industry began.
After the sinking of the Titanic in 1912 devastated the White Star Line, Cunard eventually bought out White Star in 1934 resulting in the company name Cunard White Star.
Who knew this new industry would not only endure the sinking of the Titanic, but two World Wars and now, 176 years later, it would be devastated once again, by a worldwide pandemic.
Age 96 financial genius, Warren Buffet, recently had this to say about the pandemic, “Nothing can basically stop America,” he went on “We haven’t really faced anything that quite resembles this problem, but we faced tougher problems. The American miracle, the American magic, has always prevailed, and it will do so again.”
I look forward to seeing my family this Christmas and to many more opportunities in my future to cruise and tour the world.
Merry Christmas to all my readers. I feel a bit more sincere this year, as I write the well-worn traditional holiday favorite, “Happy New Year”!