New Carnival ship to be called the Vista

New Carnival ship to be called the Vista

By Tom Stieghorst
The 25th Carnival Cruise Lines ship will be called the Carnival Vista, said Jim Berra, the cruise line’s marketing vice president, at a news conference aboard the Carnival Sunshine.

The design of the new ship will maximize views of the ocean, Berra said.

“We’re starting to use the ship names as a touchstone for how we think about design. With Vista, what we’re going to try to do is design a ship that is extremely open to the ocean.

“We think at the end of the day that is really why people are cruising. They want the salt air, they want the ocean breeze, they want to look out to the horizon and see the ocean, so a lot of what we’re thinking about in design and the inspiration for the design, is they want those views out to the ocean.”

Breeze 2.0 had been the working name for the ship, which will be 135,000 gross tons and carry 4,000 passengers. It is scheduled for delivery in 2016.

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Carnival Sunshine was set back by vandalism, reveals CEO

Carnival Sunshine was set back by vandalism, reveals CEO

By Tom Stieghorst
When the Carnival Sunshine was delivered after a two-month, $155 million drydock, a large group of cabins wasn’t fully ready for passengers.

On Saturday, Carnival Cruise Lines CEO Gerry Cahill revealed the reason why.

He said vandalism to the plumbing and electrical systems “very late in the process” of building new cabins for Sunshine left damage that had to be fixed.

“Because of that, they were not delivered to the crew until almost the day before passengers were sailing,” Cahill said. “We did not realize then there was all this damage done to the cabins. We were caught by surprise, quite frankly.”

Cahill disclosed the incident in a question-and-answer session for media on the Sunshine, which is doing a nine-day cruise in the Mediterranean.

He would not talk about who was responsible for the damage. When it was suggested that only construction contractors would have had access to the ship, Cahill responded, “Right,” but declined to elaborate.

The work on the Sunshine was done at the Fincantieri shipyard near Venice, where about 3,000 workers transformed the former Carnival Destiny into a substantially different ship. But a group of cabins in the forward section of decks 9 through 12 near the spa area weren’t ready.

It took several cruises before all the workmen were off the ship, and Carnival had to displace passengers to make room for those contractors.

The WaterWorks area with water slides and other aquatic features also was unfinished, an issue Cahill attributed to heavy rains, which made it hard for the deck coatings beneath the slides to cure.

A reset for Carnival on Europe

A reset for Carnival on Europe

By Tom Stieghorst

*InsightThe Carnival Sunshine is hosting a media group on its current Mediterranean voyage, and the top concern of the European reporters onboard is Carnival Cruise Lines’ decision to go without a ship in Europe in 2014.

The Carnival Legend, which had been scheduled to sail in Europe next year, is being deployed to Australia, after a winter season in Tampa.  It seems to reverse a promising expansion of Carnival’s sales deployment into the U.K.

At a news conference, Carnival President Gerry Cahill said it ain’t necessarily so.

“We’re not stopping marketing to the U.K. and Europe,” Cahill noted, saying it would continue to sell cruises to the Caribbean, New York and Barbados to Europeans.*TomStieghorst

But Americans made up most of the passengers on a majority of the line’s European itineraries.

“Carnival caters best to middle America,” Cahill continued. “The cost of an air ticket to Europe became very, very high, and it was causing a lot of our guests not to be able to afford to come.

“At the end of the day, when the air fare costs more than the price of the cruise, that’s a problem,” he said.

The reset on Europe comes as Carnival is withdrawing from several regional ports on the U.S. East Coast, such as Baltimore and Norfolk, Va. Tighter pollution rules mean higher costs for clean fuels at those ports, and Carnival has an aversion to higher costs. When low prices are such an important part of your strategy, anything that raises them means trouble.
So Carnival is increasingly returning to tried and true markets where it has had traditional success: sailing to the Bahamas and the Caribbean, primarily from ports in Florida.

It recently bolstered its Caribbean capacity from Port Canaveral, where the Sunshine will sail for much of 2014, and from New Orleans, where it will have two ships year-round. Miami, Tampa and Jacksonville will also be home to Carnival ships next year.

For many passengers, flying to Florida isn’t as cheap as driving to the port, but it is a lot less expensive than flying to Europe. Travel agents can sell a fly-cruise to Florida because the airfare isn’t that scary. But it does mean getting people excited about an area that many cruise passengers have seen before.

The traditional itineraries may not be the most exciting. But with costs rising, they’re the ones that Carnival can sell at a price point that middle America can afford.  Europe on Carnival will have to wait for another year.