The growth rate of the world-wide cruise industry has surpassed all the other tourism and leisure industries for over 20 years. Many reports keep saying that this growth will continue for many years to come. In spite of this great growth and the following economic importance of the cruise industry, the decision making problems for cruise ship management have been usually dealt simply by the manager's experiences and intuitions. There has been few academic research yet on analytic decision making models for supporting cruise ship routing and scheduling problems.
The routing and scheduling of a cruise ship has its own uniqueness different from that of any merchant ship. The operation of a typical cruise ship is much like a liner in some sense, but it also has something like a bulk cargo ship at the same time. This uniqueness makes the cruise ship scheduling problem need a new decision making model different from the existing ones developed for merchant ships.
This paper presents a decision making model for the cruise ship management, and this is the first model of this kind. A network based optimization model has been developed for a single cruise ship operation. It gives optimal ship scheduling patterns over the planning period for cruise ship managers who want to find out profit maximizing cruise ship routing and scheduling plan. A network solution method to find the optimal scheduling pattern is also developed. This network model can be equivalently transformed into a linear programming model, which makes the implementation of the model quite practical however complicated the given scheduling environment may be. The ship scheduling network developed in this study can also be used as a general framework to describe all the cruise ship routing and scheduling alternatives the cruise ship manager can figure out.