Upbeat Tone To Early Wave Reports

Cruise Week

Retailers report that Wave Season is off to a strong start. "How could it not be?" asked one top seller. "The weather is perfect: it's cold, but generally there's not too much snow to negatively affect travel."

While Mother Nature is no doubt playing a role, it's more than ideal weather conditions that have agents hoping the positive early signs will not stop come the 2nd half of January.

Several retailers note that unlike last winter, the macro-economic trends impacting the business are occurring at a good time when it comes to bookings. The economy and stock market are on solid ground and fuel prices are at their lowest level in years. All of these contribute to an increase in discretionary spending.

Cruise Week asked Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, President & CEO of Celebrity to comment on some of the observations made by retailers. Mainly, she concurs: "Looking at the larger macro environment, it is encouraging to see a milder winter vs. last year and that consumer confidence is relatively good."

Regarding fuel prices, Lutoff-Perlo notes, "Logically, with the drop in fuel prices, it is reasonable to assume that people have more discretionary income, and our hope would be that it could translate into more business."

However, she cautions that fuel prices are only one indicator of why people feel they are willing to spend their available dollars on vacations, and those would relate to the confidence and strengthening of the economy in general -- not just the price of fuel.

(will not be published)