Cruise Lines Go Overboard

A fleet of monster ships is steaming into a high-seas showdown. They're loaded for fun. But can they all make money?

Not since the Titanic set sail has the sea seemed so alluring or the cruise industry looked so unsinkable as it does today. With 5 million customers booking passage last year--a 10-fold increase from two decades ago--major carriers such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean have steamed to record sales and profits. They have turned a once snooty form of travel into mass-market vacations for people like Ken and Sherry Nunn and daughter Ashley, an Indiana family that recently spent three nights aboard Royal Caribbean's cozy 2,250-passenger Sovereign of the Seas. "Everything's right there, and you don't have to run yourself crazy...

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