Spring break in full swing, budget considered

Around the world, concern over rising prices is high on the list of concerns with travelers, but with spring break in full swing U.S. college students take to the beach. Somewhere. Maybe not where they initially had planned.

If the price of gas at the pump is cutting back on spring break travel you’d never know it at Miami’s South Beach, a perennial favorite among spring breakers. Crowds of party-goers are clogging the beaches by day and streets by night as thousands stream in. But higher fuel prices and a recovering economy are having an effect whether they come by air, land or sea.

Skyrocketing prices at the pumps are modifying plans and adding on additional costs for travelers. Gas prices nationwide are averaging right at $3.53 a gallon right now, up from $2.75 a year ago says GasBuddy.com who has been tracking prices since 2000.

As much as spring-breakers want to get away from world events, they can not escape the effects of a world in turmoil on several fronts. It’s been nothing but bad news coming from the middle east starting with Egypt unrest then Libya and the potential threat to oil supply that could result. As the massive earthquake then tsunami rocked Japan yet another wild card was thrown into the oil game.Airlines too are adding on or increasing fuel charges. In a revised profit forecast, the International Air Transport Association said it was downgrading its airline industry profit outlook for 2011 to $8.6 billion from the $9.1 billion it had estimated just last December.

Cruise lines, with a system in place to recoup rising fuel costs, are holding off on adding back in their rabidly unpopular fuel surcharges for the most part. Based on the price of crude oil, while the threshold for when a fuel surcharge can be added has already been exceeded, cruise lies are not anxious to pull the trigger in fear of slowing down solid bookings that are filling ships at a record pace.

Yesterday, we were in Fort Lauderdale at the premiere of Royal Caribbean’s short film series Ocean Views (#Oceanviews) where packed ships were full of spring breakers and their families at Port Everglades.

The Ocean Views series itself, directed and starring Jenny McCarthy and James Brolin along with some other big-time Hollywood stars is a comment on a world in transition. In the well-done 10-minute films, available on YouTube and the cruise line’s website, top names in entertainment are, well, working on a cruise ship, something none of them would have imagined a short time ago. Still, it’s where the future is headed and the social nature of a short film is right on track. In a question and answer session following the premiere, 40-year veteran Brolin admitted being a bit hesitant to take on the project in the beginning but acknowledged that “it felt right” after production began.

Filmed on Royal Caribbean’s Allure of the Seas, the largest cruise ship in the world, Brolin’s film has to do with multi-generational (3G) family groups, a segment much sought-after by travel sellers. 3G travel groups, backed by grandparent’s secure funding, have a better ability to weather unanticipated increases in travel costs. The all-inclusive nature of a cruise vacation is appealing too as grandparents get out the checkbook to pay.

Still, with spring break in full swing for many, bringing along the parents and grandparents is about the last thought in a spring-breakers mind. Adjustments in the budget category for students on South Beach this year means maybe another person or six in a car coming down here or in the hotel room, not always a bad thing.

Flickrphoto by Gubatron