Cruise Industry Maintained Growth in Early 2008

NEW YORK (AP) _ The cruise industry has enjoyed some smooth
sailing for the past year and a-half despite the possibility of
financial rough seas ahead.
A report being released Wednesday by the Cruise Lines
International Association says more than 12 and a-half million
passengers took cruises worldwide last year. That's nearly 5
percent better than the year before. And there was an even bigger
jump during the first half of this year.
But nearly all the increase has been among foreign tourists. And
analysts say travel agents report European demand is tapering off
in a sign of economic hard times.
Still, the head of the cruise line association says the industry
is ``cautiously optimistic'' it will meet its goal of 12.8 million
passengers this year. It's also hopeful about the future: 34 new
cruise ships are under construction.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)