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Travel agents: No effect yet from cruise debacle

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 15, 2013 at 8:46 am •  Published: February 15, 2013

The Costa Concordia's effect on the cruise industry unfolded over a period of months in 2012, as revenues grew at a slower rate than had been expected. A November 2012 report by PhoCusWright, the global travel market research company, said the cruise industry's growth rate fell to 4 percent in 2012, down from 7 percent in 2011. In addition to the Concordia, the industry was hurt by the U.S. recession and European financial crisis.

But on Thursday, PhoCusWright senior research director Douglas Quinby said the Triumph is in a "completely different category" from Concordia. "Events like the Triumph, while they're obviously very unpleasant ... they're rare and they do not tend to have a long shelf life within consumer consciousness, especially among the core cruiser set, those consumers that cruise frequently and love cruising."

Diana Warschauer of Reno, Nevada, was onboard the Carnival Splendor when it lost power at sea in 2010, and like other passengers, she was given a refund and a free future Carnival cruise, which she only recently booked. She said hearing about the Triumph "brought back everything." But even though the Triumph rekindled her memories of sickening smells and other discomforts on the Splendor, she's going ahead with the second cruise, partly because the ship leaves from New Orleans and she's already booked flights and hotels for her family of four.

"If we were driving and all these other costs had not been incurred, I might not go," she said.

Alyce S. Lee-Walker of North Carolina, a veteran cruiser, said the Triumph won't stop her from booking a Mediterranean cruise this spring with her husband. "I don't think it is any more dangerous than walking across the street, flying in a plane, taking the subway," she said.

Mark Schiffner, vice president and chief operating officer of Cruise Holidays International, said some of the travel company's "agents tell us they have received questions about this particular incident, but it has not scared away any clients.