CNBC Special Explores How Cruise Ships, Ports Make "Big Money"

March 20, 2009

Ever wonder how the cruise industry, one of the fastest growing segments in the travel realm, really makes its money -- especially in an era defined by economic challenges and ever-cheaper fares? Next week, you can crunch the numbers with CNBC correspondent and travel expert Peter Greenberg.

On March 24, CNBC will premiere "Cruise Inc: Big Money on the High Seas" -- a television special that will offer a behind-the-scenes look at the $30 billion cruise industry. Greenberg took a camera crew on a one-week Caribbean cruise aboard Norwegian Cruise Line's Norwegian Pearl for an insider's tour of the ship, its inner workings and its many opportunities for turning a profit, from bingo to Botox.

During the program, Greenberg and viewers will learn how much money a tourism-dependent country makes during one eight-hour cruise ship call; exactly how much of a gap exists between the base fare for a cabin and the actual cost if you take advantage of all the extras on offer; and why inclement weather, a delayed departure or even running low on beer can impact a company's bottom line. Beyond money matters, the show will offer a peek at Norwegian Pearl's surveillance and state-of-the-art security systems and explore common misconceptions about safety at sea.

We'll definitely be programming our TiVo's to grab this show because while other networks, like the Travel Channel, often run cruise-related specials focusing on shipboard attractions and amenities, CNBC will address the business and financial side of cruising. We're curious to see its take on the industry. If you're planning to tune in, the program will air on Tuesday, March 24, at 9 p.m. EDT. (Fun fact: This is CNBC's first high-definition documentary.)

And in the meantime, visit for photo slideshows, previews of show highlights and special Web extras -- including a video interview with Cruise Critic's editor in chief, Carolyn Spencer Brown.

--by Melissa Baldwin Paloti, Managing Editor