Cruise lines that are members of the Cruise Lines International Assn. plan to add 13 new ships with nearly 18,000 beds onboard by the end of 2012. The new boats include the Carnival Breeze, a 1,000-foot ship that can carry 3,690 passengers, and the Disney Fantasy, a 1,115-foot vessel that can carry 4,000 passengers.
Next year, those same cruise lines plan to add six ships with 8,109 beds, according to the trade group.
The demand to take vacations on the new ships helped offset the slowdown in bookings in Europe, travel agents said.
"We are having a phenomenal year," said Fee, whose travel company is enjoying a 12% increase in cruise bookings this year over 2011. Although some vacationers were hesitant to book after the Concordia disaster, she said bookings eventually surged as cruise lines began to unveil new ships and package deals.
"They continue to think of new ideas to drive people on board," she said, noting that most cruise ships are now big enough to hold several restaurants and offer dozens of onboard activities. "This is not your grandmother's cruise."