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Rough Waters Ahead?

March 12, 2000

One need not be a marketing genius to disagree with Christopher Reynolds' prediction that overcapacity and underutilization are good news for bargain-seeking cruise shoppers ("Cruise Fares May Be Shrinking as Fleet Grows," Travel Insider, Feb. 27).

The chairmen of Carnival, Royal Caribbean International, etc., are no dummies. They have a responsibility to their shareholders to produce a fair return on their investments.

The current low-cost offerings will soon disappear. Just as airlines had to change their products after deregulation, which resulted in lower fares but also in smaller seats and poorer service, it is not inconceivable that cruise lines will succeed in improving their profits by raising their prices for on-board consumables, such as bar, shore excursions, photos, etc.

The day will come when cruise passengers will have to pay for their meals. In other words, the cruise fare will merely pay for the cabin; everything else will be "a la carte." It will take the fun out of cruise travel, just as deregulation has taken the enjoyment out of air travel.

GORDON L. FROEDE

Cheviot Hills

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