Brazilian tourists by the thousands are enjoying the summer on board beautiful, modern and comfortable foreign transatlantic vessels that go on coastwise sea cruises up and down the Brazilian coast.
Due to the global economic crisis and to the appreciation of the dollar as against the Brazilian currency, the real, this season many Brazilians replaced international trips with trips along the Brazilian coast, especially after examining the cost-benefit ratio offered by cruises that dock in national ports. The single price per person on cruises includes housing, food, entertainment and several attractions.
Fourteen transatlantic vessels flying foreign flags are sailing the Brazilian coast, and they should transport 500,000 tourists in the 2008/2009 season, which began in November last year and which should go on up to April, according to an estimate by the Brazilian Association of Maritime Companies (Abremar).
These figures mean average growth of 25% over the previous season. In all, there should be 235 coastwise or domestic cruises in the country, that is, when passengers board in the country.
Companies that sell trips on ships and international transatlantic vessels have established their prices at lower exchange rates than the official exchange rate for passengers who reserved their tickets up to November and are also simplifying the payment of the trip in installments. This strategy resulted in almost full occupation (95%) on vessels during Christmas and New Year, according to figures disclosed by the organization.
In this season, coastwise cruises are diversifying routes and entertainment and leisure options offered to their passengers. There are from gastronomic cruises, trips for singles, shows with famous singers and bands, parties managed by famous DJs, and even the new fitness modality, in which gym and fitness activities on board are animated by famous groups and TV stars. Singers Roberto Carlos, Fábio Jr. and Zezé di Camargo & Luciano are going to play on some ships.
Some transatlantic vessels are going to dock on the Brazilian coast for the first time. This is the case with Italian vessels MSC Musica, belonging to MSC; Costa Mediterrânea, belonging to Costa Cruises; company Celebration's Soberano; and Imperatriz, belonging to CVC.
Twenty-four destinations are being visited on the Brazilian coast by the coastwise cruises: Angra dos Reis, Belém, Búzios, Cabo Frio, Fernando de Noronha, Florianópolis, Fortaleza, Jaguanum Island, Ilhabela, Ilhéus, Itajaí, Macapá, Maceió, Manaus, Natal, Paraty, Porto Belo, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Santarém, Santos, Vitória and Ubatuba.
Over the last eight years, coastwise cruises have grown 623% in Brazil, according to Abremar. This means that the sector had average expansion of 33% a year, generating jobs and tax revenues for cities, states and the central government.
According to the Impact of Cruises research, promoted for the organization in 2006 by Fipe/USP, the arrivals of ships promotes expansions of up to 40% in the economies of destinations where they stop.
"The companies that promote coastwise cruises strengthen the Brazil brand by putting their ships in Brazilian waters, adding credibility to the destination," added the Abremar president, Eduardo Nascimento. Advertising, sites and pamphlets of these companies generate curiosity among over 50 million consumers worldwide, when they visit the routes.
Despite the growth of coastwise cruises in recent years, the country is still little known as a travel destination in large consumers markets. The North American market, for example, is the largest in the world and counts on 14.6 million cruise users. European countries occupy the second place in the ranking of sea cruises, with around 4 million tourists.
For the last 50 years the region of the Caribbean is the world's most visited cruise destination. The coast of the Mediterranean is the most consumed by Europeans in the summer of the Northern Hemisphere. "In both cases, the routes are repeated and no longer present novelties. Their consumers tend to seek new destinations and ships," explained the Abremar president.