While one still can see "tall ships" at maritime museums and under way in occasional parades in seaports, most people believe the era of sailing merchant vessels ended in the late 1930s. Not true. It is alive and thriving, but instead of coal, grain, and ores, the cargoes now are tourists. You still can run away to sea on board a tall ship.
The cruise ship industry truly is an impressive seagoing business. More than 300 ships with gross registered tonnages of more than 1,000 tons serve nearly 7.5 million passengers a year out of ports throughout the world. It is an industry that has been enjoying annual growth rates averaging 8%. Despite the tragic events of 11 September 2001, this growth resumed after a brief downturn in the final months of last year.