A workboat sector that’s cruising

The ups and downs of the offshore market have been well documented since the downturn in the U.S. Gulf began several years ago.

The latest, which Bill Pike discusses in his column on page 9, is that the offshore market is on an upward trend but ­— and there always seems to be a but with the offshore energy market — the recent decline in oil prices has put this in question. U.S. oil prices have dropped by a third since its Oct. 3 high, the largest percentage decline since 2016. As of Jan. 8, West Texas Intermediate was trading below $50 bbl., the minimum price most big shale companies use for budget planning. A big price jump of over 5% yesterday put WTI crude at $52.36 bbl.

But enough about offshore. There is another workboat sector that has been dealing only with ups lately — the passenger vessel industry. It has been on an upward trend for several years, helped by the strong economy and consumer confidence.

In her annual cover story on the passenger vessel market in the February issue of WorkBoat which is due out soon, Dale DuPont writes that the continued economic growth that many economists are forecasting for this year spells more good news for this market.

John Groundwater, executive director of the Passenger Vessel Association (PVA), said he believes that “the passenger vessel industry will continue on a positive economic path in 2019 as well.”

The strong growth extends from overnight cruises to ferries and excursion boats in what has been one of the hottest segments of the workboat industry.

This is reflected in PVA’s own numbers. “So far this year, we have added 41 new companies to our ranks. In addition to vessel operating companies, some of these new members are vendors and suppliers such as shipyards, ticketing and marketing companies, insurers and others who are looking to expand into the U.S. passenger vessel market,” he said. Groundwater added that net new membership is outpacing last year.

With discretionary spending strong, especially from baby boomers, overnight cruising demand has been strong and the market is growing.

I’ll have a chance to gauge the optimism next week when the PVA’s annual conference comes to New Orleans.

About the author

David Krapf

David Krapf has been editor of WorkBoat, the nation’s leading trade magazine for the inland and coastal waterways industry, since 1999. He is responsible for overseeing the editorial direction of the publication. Krapf has been in the publishing industry since 1987, beginning as a reporter and editor with daily and weekly newspapers in the Houston area. He also was the editor of a transportation industry daily in New Orleans before joining WorkBoat as a contributing editor in 1992. He has been covering the transportation industry since 1989, and has a degree in business administration from the State University of New York at Oswego, and also studied journalism at the University of Houston.

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