What a Cruise May Tell

Stephen Chung

Managing Director

Zeppelin Real Estate Analysis Limited

July 2011

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Your humble author recently embarked on a Mediterranean cruise and the ship is a relative sizable one which can hold up to some 3300 passengers.

On the first evening, there would be a welcoming show on board and the cruise director mentioned collectively we were an international bunch. He also had statistics to back up the claim. Being an analyst, paying attention to numbers is almost second nature to your humble author. Here are some of the salient (rounded) figures which were based on the passports used for boarding:

a)    From Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong = around 40 people

b)    From South Korea = around 30

c)    From Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines etc = around 30

d)    From Vietnam, India etc = around 20

e)    From Australia and New Zealand = around 200

Thus, that means there were around 120 people from Asia and 320 if the South Pacific region is included. Now, more numbers:

f)    From the UK = around 300

g)    From the rest of Europe such as France, Germany, Italy (Rome was the embarkation port), Spain, Russia, Norway, Portugal, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Poland etc = around 200

As such, there would probably be around 500 Europeans on board.

More figures:

h)    From Canada = some 400

i)     From the USA = some 1800!

j)     From other parts of the Americas = around 200

Hence, there would be around 2400 from the Americas. Remaining groups consist of passengers from Africa, the Middle East, and the like, including a few places which one may not often hear of. In short, and using a rounded overall figure of 3300 passengers, the Americas constitute around 73% of the total passenger population, with the USA alone accounting for 55%.

However, one statistic, not yet mentioned in the above, stood out and was a bit surprising: Japan = 1.

Naturally, it would not be rational to draw any concrete conclusion about global economies from cruise statistics and for that matter, from just one cruise. Nonetheless, there could be a bit of insight:

a)    On a relative basis, the North Americas*, and in particular the USA, are not having too bad a time compared to Europe = which actually should have fielded more passengers with shorter flight distances [12 hours typical for Canadians and Americans flying from the East Coast whereas Europeans tend to face anything from 0 hours V if one lives in Rome V to no more than 5 hours]. Also, some countries in South America are performing very well e.g. Brazil [18 to 20 hour flights].

b)    Japan is really in a deep hole = based on memory, one would normally find say 20 to 30 passengers from Japan given cruises of similar size. 1 does probably indicate its rather dire circumstances after the recent quake and nuclear plant incident.

c)    Canada seems to be doing relatively well = given its population is only 1/10 of the USA, it has field more than its share of passengers on board as 400 Canadians to 1800 Americans is 1 to 4.50.

d)    UK also accounts for more than its share of passengers among Europeans = fielding more than half the European passenger population.

e)    Collectively, the major English speaking countries still contributed the bulk of the passenger population (at least for this cruise) = more than 80% of the total.

Much has been written about global economics recently and several themes are often touted e.g. the prospective BRIC and emerging economies, prosperous Asia, the dreaded PIIGS, the demise of the US$, and the like.

Not that these do not hold water and indeed some of the emerging markets are very promising, not to mention the dangers which many developed economies face, yet to the cruise ship and its parent company, the English speaking crowd from developed countries is still bread and butter, notwithstanding rising popularity among non-English speaking emerging countries.   

*Note: there could be a bias factor here as the cruise line is an American one.

Notes: The article and/or content contained herein are for general reference only and are not meant to substitute proper professional advice and/or due diligence. The author(s) and Zeppelin, including its staff, associates, consultants, executives and the like do not accept any responsibility or liability for losses, damages, claims and the like arising out of the use or reference to the content contained herein.    

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