Cruises bring California money, even in choppy economy

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The cruise line industry today released a report that touts its economic impact in California and nationally. KPCC’s Nick Roman says it comes as the industry struggles in a choppy economic sea.

The report comes from the Cruise Lines International Association, the trade group for the cruise line industry. It says the North American cruise line industry contributed more than $2 billion in direct spending in California last year. Nearly 50,000 jobs in the state are linked to cruises.

The ports in L.A., Long Beach, San Diego, and San Francisco tallied 1.8 million passenger and crew visits. The report says 1.4 million people began their cruises at a California port last year. That's up nearly 8 percent from the year before.

It all sounds great, right? But it's not great for the industry. The Cruise Lines International Association’s report on the industry’s benefits comes as cruise lines struggle with the bad economy and “swine flu” worries.

Royal Caribbean just posted a second-quarter loss – noting that bookings for West Coast Mexico cruises were a “particular challenge.” The cruise line says the rest of the year will be tough, too.

There’s a lot of competition for your vacation dollars, which means big discounts on luxury cruises. A blog in The New York Times highlights seven new ships sailing now or due to launch before the end of the year.