Cruise industry booming despite rough seas

At first glance, the cruise industry’s public-relations disasters during the past two years would seem like enough to make almost any business take on water.

Since the Costa Concordia ran aground off Italy in January 2012, killing 32 people, the industry has been besieged by mechanical failures, disease outbreaks, congressional scrutiny and a recent class-action suit filed by passengers on the Carnival Triumph, which was adrift in the Gulf of Mexico for days.

Yet despite repeated images of stranded, frustrated passengers, business has been booming — and the trend is unlikely to stop anytime soon, industry watchers say.

Efforts in Congress to tighten regulation have stalled, and the twin pillars of the cruise economy — affordable prices and repeat customers — have stood as a bulwark against other problems.

“People just keep coming back,” said Andrea Stokes, who tracks the tourism industry for Ipsos, a global market-research company.

In the U.S., she said, recent efforts by the cruise industry to expand to ports in Baltimore and the New York City area have helped open the market to new vacationers.

Cruise industry booming despite rough seas Orlando Sentinel