Norwegian Star exits drydock with Five O’Clock Somewhere bar

By Rebecca Tobin

Norwegian Cruise Line’s partnership with Margaritaville is taking shape on the Norwegian Star, which carries the line’s first Five O’Clock Somewhere bar following a two-week drydock.

The Five O’Clock Somewhere bar will sell Margaritaville signature drinks like the “Who’s to Blame Margarita” and LandShark beer. Norwegian, which announced its partnership with Margaritaville last year, will offer a Margaritaville restaurant and Five O’Clock Somewhere bar on the Norwegian Escape, which debuts this fall, and it also plans to construct Margaritavilles at its private ports of call.

In addition to introducing the Five O’Clock Somewhere bar, the line also eliminated a $15 cover charge on the Star’s Ginza restaurant. The Asian specialty restaurant will offer a complimentary menu and items priced on an a la carte basis.

An O’Sheehan’s Neighborhood Bar & Grill was added to the ship. The Brazillian steakhouse-style Moderno Churrascaria was moved to what Norwegian called a “more intimate” setting on Deck 13, and a Sugarcane Mojito Bar was installed adjacent to the steakhouse.

Other additions to the Star include new carpeting and flooring throughout guest areas and updates to the pool deck. Touch-screen signage, which was introduced on the Norwegian Breakaway, was added to the Star.

On the technical side, the Azipod propulsion system was updated and the hull coated with silicone paint. Norwegian said the measures would improve fuel efficiency.

The ship will sail in northern Europe this summer.
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Correction: A scrubber system was not installed during the recent drydock.

Carnival Corp. orders 9 ships to be built from 2019 to 2022

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By Johanna Jainchill
Carnival Corp. said Thursday that it would add nine ships to its fleet between 2019 and 2022.

Carnival offered almost no details about the ship order. It did not specify which of its nine brands would get the new vessels or offer any information about their size, design or cost.

In a statement, Carnival said the new ships were expected to serve the North American, European and Chinese cruise markets, would be specifically designed and developed for their particular brands and would be the most efficient ships in Carnival history.

“We’re excited to take this next step in our fleet-enhancement plan with these two new agreements that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time,” Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.

The order is in line with Donald’s previous statements indicating that the company would restrict its growth to two to three ships per year across its fleet.

Carnival said it had signed memorandums of agreement with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard to build five of the vessels and with Germany’s Meyer Werft to build four.

Additional information about the ships, such as their design and which brands they will be built for, will be revealed at a later date, Carnival said.

In announcing the new builds, the company indicated that Donald would be offering additional details about the new vessels during Carnival Corp.’s earnings call on Friday.

Carnival Corp. is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Aida Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (U.K.).

Late last year it ordered one ship each from Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line for delivery in 2018.

The company has added more than 30 ships to its combined fleets since 2007, and it has another nine scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018, which Donald pointed out in December was about one vessel for each of its brands over the next four years.

This year, Carnival is adding two ships to its global fleet and removing four. The new vessels are P&O’s Britannia, which launched earlier this month, and the Aida Prima, set to debut later this year.

Carnival Corporation reports strong Q1 profits

By Hollie-Rae Merrick

Carnival Corporation reports strong Q1 profits Carnival Corporation has reporter stronger-than-expected earnings for the first quarter of 2015.

The cruise company made a net profit of $49 million, or $0.06 diluted earnings per share in the last quarter, compared to a net loss of $20 million in the last year period.

It attributed its strong earnings to a rise in onboard revenues which were up 8% compared to 2014. Onboard spending rose to $889 million from $850 million, although revenue from ticket prices dropped around 3.5%.

Net revenue yields increased 2% in the first quarter of 2015, better than the company’s December guidance of up to 1%. However, gross revenue yields dropped 3.1% due to changes in currency exchange rates.

Looking ahead to 2015, Carnival Corporation said advance bookings were ahead of 2014 and at higher prices.

Chief executive and president Arnold Donald said: “The year is off to a strong start achieving significantly higher earnings than the prior year and our previous guidance.

“Our onboard revenue initiatives drove particularly strong improvement in the first quarter with onboard yields more than 8% higher than prior year (constant dollar).

“We are experiencing an ongoing improvement in underlying fundamentals based on our successful initiatives to drive demand. Our efforts to further elevate our guest experience are clearly resonating with consumers and, notably, improving the frequency and retention of our loyal guests.”

Donald said he believed results had improved off the back of “ongoing public relations efforts and creative marketing campaigns” designed to attract new customers. He referenced the success of the company’s Super Bowl advertising campaign which generated five billion impressions online before the ad had even run on TV.

He added: “Consistent with many global companies, the strengthening of the US dollar has hampered our full-year earnings expectations, masking the 3% to 4% (constant currency) yield increase our collective brands are expecting to achieve.

“Our successful initiatives to drive both ticket and onboard revenue yields have improved our financial performance and we remain on track toward our goal of achieving double-digit return on invested capital in the next three to four years.”

Folllowing a strong start to the year with bookings, Carnival said it expects full-year 2015 net revenue yields to increase 3% or 4% compared to 2014 and one point better than previous guidance for the year ahead.

However, changes in currency exchange rates means full-year 2015 earning expectations have been reduced by $219 million. Carnival said this was offset by an improvement in the company’s operating performance.