Even as the strong and persistent summer winds were playing havoc with the home port construction schedules, worldwide cruise news was full of positive growth numbers and valuable statistics showing increases in almost every segment of cruise passenger activity from participation in shore excursions to individual spending at port departure points, ports of call and port disembarkation points. In addition, Carnival Cruise Lines completed construction on some major pier investments pretty close to home, well, Cozumel, same country but on the opposite side.
We have previously discussed in some depth what we should be learning from the detailed statistics the cruise industry has a history of following for decades. Statistics which they have collected religiously and used to create phenomenal, consistent growth in passenger traffic and astronomical passenger satisfaction figures. Even after more than a century the cruise lines still study-and learn from-their statistical information gathering. This information directs their every move, from immediate adjustments to future ship builds.
It seems like a no brainer, then, that we can gain valuable knowledge to help us prepare for our entry into this lucrative, affluent, even glamorous market. For example, the fact that 75% of passenger expenditures were made in four categories: 1.) watches and jewelry; 2.) shore excursions; 3.) clothing; and 4.) food and beverages, in that order, should command the attention of business interests in any of those categories. Retail stores and gift shops should realize that the real money is in handling real jewelry and a variety of high quality watches just for starters.
Let’s break down just one of those categories, saving the others for future reports. The latest stats shine brightly and specifically for local tour operators, practically designing their tour products for them. Shore excursions were the most popular category among the above mentioned four. Over half (53%) of all passengers purchased a tour and tour operators received an average of $44 per passenger directly from passengers and cruise lines. We also know that the excursions offered had better be well designed and highly service centric because shore excursions received the highest score of all visit attributes (8.3).
So we know exactly what they are expecting from a tour experience. We even have statistics that tell us which excursions rated highest: Those involving History and Culture. It’s like they are playing right into our strongest suit here in Puerto Peñasco! And the clincher? These stats are from 23.6 million passenger shore visits during the survey period.
DOWN BY THE PIER
On the 15th of October we took a walk with Wendy Winzer, Home Port Project Administrator, to the end of the pier, which is now at 720 meters in length, and back. Just another 220 meters to go before it makes the WSW turn for the final 411 meters. The contracted docking company will begin anchoring their independent dock at about 140 meters into the turn.
While we were walking Wendy explained that they are waiting until more small rock is blasted from the quarry which is supposed to be taking place before the end of October. In the meantime, they have renewed pouring the one and ten ton cubes anticipating the need immediately after the small rocks are poured. For the next week or so they are continuing to retrieve and re-position all the rocks and cubes that were displaced during the high winds of the last two months.
You would think that in her job, a walk to the end of the pier would be a rather routine activity, but Wendy exuded enthusiasm as she described the increased marine life and the exceptional skills of the front loader operators. “These guys are artists as they operate these huge front loaders”. When they are done with the small rocks the jetty looks as smooth as a wall, then they assist the large cranes by balancing the great cubes in their loaders and place them in the exact position to weigh the rocks down until they settle.
“We have seen small sharks darting among the rocks and the divers seem to discover new species of fish on each dive that have taken up residence in spaces between the rocks and cubes”, she was excited as she spoke. “Even the banana boat operators are dragging their passengers slowly up close to the jetty to give them a bird’s eye view of the progress.”
As we stood at the end of the pier, sure enough, there’s a banana boat free floating about 30 meters east with a banana-load of kids. They weren’t looking at the pier, though. They were enthralled with a large pod of dolphins dancing their way around the end of the pier not 20 meters in front of our position. This time Wendy wasn’t the only one excited. Out there, over half a mile from shore the wildlife and marine life activity is astounding. Dozens of species of seabirds, large fish of unknown species, at least to this writer, swimming just inches below the surface of an obviously clearer sea this far out. The dolphins added to the color and art of the scene as they merged around the end of the jetty and headed toward the beach, feeding on the new residents who had found a home among the rocks. As their lunch dispersed the dolphins continued toward the point at competition hill.
“Sights like these make all the hard work seem like a pleasure to me,” said Wendy as we headed back to her trailer/office. Oh, yes!
This article is brought to you by the Sonoran Resorts Sales Group, www.sonoranresorts.mx, Jim Ringquist, Director of Sales and Marketing