The ship’s chefs line the rail of the Pride of Aloha, NCL’s first interisland cruise ship in Hawaii, during its inaugural ceremony in 2004. In 2008, NCL pulled the ship
from Hawaii along with its second entry, the Pride of Hawaii. A third NCL ship, the Pride of America, is now the only U.S.-flagged ship cruising the islands.
• New hotel brands. An uncertain number of the
40-odd new brands that were announced in the building boom that preceded the economic crash are, if not
necessarily gone, certainly on hold. Barry Sternlicht’s
luxury eco-brand, 1, is among the more high-profile
brands in limbo for lack of money. Among other high-profile projects also in question, Boyd Gaming’s four-hotel Echelon project in Las Vegas, the fifth and sixth
phases of Las Vegas Sands’ massive casino and retail
development in Macao and Ritz-Carlton’s first Reserve
brand resort in West Turks and Caicos, which was being
financed by Lehman Brothers.
• Big spenders. Although early in 2008 the luxury
sector had still been widely considered recession proof,
that changed quickly after October, which saw the collapse of Lehman Brothers and steep dives in financial
markets. Exacerbating the drop in luxury was taxpayer-backlash to reports that AIG went ahead with a retreat
at an Arizona resort after a multibillion-dollar government bailout. These and other pressures culminated in
a double-digit plunge in luxury sector hotel occupancy
in the fall. Luxury operators will spend 2009 trying to
woo meetings and wealthy travelers with everything
from bargains to environmental and other socially responsible give-backs.
• Condo-tels. Given the drop in real estate values and
tightening credit, most hotel executives and analysts
agree that the condo hotel trend that became popular
during the housing and hotel building boom has not
just slowed down but is dead.
The ship sailed a series of farewell voyages that ended
in Dubai in November.
Cunard sold the QE2 to Istithmar, a company wholly
owned by the Dubai government, which plans to convert the liner into a luxury hotel off of Palm Jumeirah,
the world’s largest man-made island.
The QE2’s fate is similar to that of a predecessor, the
Queen Mary, which is a floating hotel and tourist attraction in Long Beach, Calif.
• Colin Veitch. After ushering in Freestyle cruising
and the U.S.-flagged interisland Hawaii fleet and overseeing the delivery of eight new cruise ships in an attempt to operate the industry’s youngest fleet, Veitch
stepped down from the helm at NCL Corp., which he
had headed since 2000.
Veitch also helped to popularize the U.S. homeport
movement, which NCL dubbed Homeland Cruising,
and put the industry’s first year-round cruise ship in
New York, with a seven-day, New York-Bahamas itinerary.
• Hawaii-based ships. Veitch’s Hawaii operation was
dismantled in 2008. The Pride of Aloha and the Pride
of Hawaii both lowered their American flags and were
renamed and redeployed to NCL’s foreign-flagged fleet,
leaving only the Pride of America in Hawaii.
NCL’s bold Hawaii initiative turned into a major drag
on the line’s profits as the U.S. flagging meant having
to pay U.S. wages and benefits and to forgo an onboard
casino. At the same time, the American crew earned itself a litany of complaints.
NCL said its one remaining ship in Hawaii is
• Traditional dining. This year saw the ushering out
of legacy cruise dining in favor of flexible dining options. The old-school tradition of sitting at the same
table at the same time every night has lost favor among
many consumers, and with the lines offering so many
alternative dining choices on ships, people want to move
around and try the offerings, from tandoori chicken to
sushi to celebrity chef steakhouses.
• Fuel surcharges. They were first instituted in late
2007, but 2008 was the year of the fuel supplement.
Carnival Corp. brands first slapped passengers with the
fees in November of last year, and other lines quickly
followed. They were controversial from the start, with
the Florida attorney general’s office investigating the legality of assessing the fees retroactively and suspicions
of possible collusion when the lines first set the extra
As gas prices at the pump tumbled to less than $2 per
gallon, both passengers and travel agents began ques-
— Jeri Clausing
• The Queen Elizabeth 2. The QE2 sailed its 41st and
final year as a cruise ship for Cunard in 2008 before retiring to Dubai as a floating hotel.
Cunard Line’s storied, 41-year-old Queen Elizabeth 2 made its final appearance in New York in October. It retired to Dubai in November, to become a floating hotel.