Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cruise Industry Courts Family Audiences

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Cruise Industry Courts Family Audiences

Article excerpt

MIAMI _ At 3 a.m., the only people on the deck of the American Adventure are teen-agers winding down after a long day at sea.

A curious Bruce Nierenberg, president of American Family Cruises, stopped by to chat.

"We don't get up until noon. We sleep all morning. We think this is the coolest part of the trip," they told the head of the family-oriented cruise line after a Coca-Cola bottle christening in December.

The baby boomlet has hit the cruise industry. A business intent on finding profits amid heavy costs sees young travelers as part of the answer.

"When you look at the demographics, 36 percent of all U.S. households are considered family households, so it's a big audience out there," said Gary Sain, senior vice president of sales with Premier Cruise Lines Ltd. Its three-vessel Big Red Boat fleet combines cruises with trips to attractions like the Disney World and Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando.

It's a startling change for an industry perhaps best known for gray-haired clients and lonely singles seeking a Love Boat fling.

Premier research indicates 28 percent of its growth in the '90s will come in the 35-54 age group, travel by young adults will drop 15 percent and the senior market will stagnate.

"We can't afford not to tap into the big segments like family vacations," said Nierenberg. "There's more people who go on vacation with their kids in this country than any other group."

Newborn American Family and 10-year-old Premier share the lead in children-oriented programs, marketing all-inclusive vacations at sea to parents.

"People just don't expect what we've done out there. We've really gone over the wall," said Nierenberg. "A disco-sized room for 3- and 4-year-olds. That's what I'm talking about."

Among the industry leaders, Carnival has offered its Camp Carnival program year-round for about five years, and Royal Caribbean has programs for Kids, Tweens and Teens. …

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