Carnival CEO says Trump likely to be pro-business

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Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann at CruiseWorld. Photo Credit: Jamie Biesiada
 

Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said that the election of Donald Trump as president has the potential to be good for the cruise industry, but he also said he hopes that Trump will do “the right thing” internationally.

Donald made the comment during a conversation with Travel Weekly editor in chief Arnie Weissmann at CruiseWorld, an annual Travel Weekly event in Fort Lauderdale that brings together travel agents and travel suppliers.

Asked by Weissmann for his response to the election, Donald quoted Secretary of State John Kerry, who several years ago said that there are no winners or losers after a U.S. presidential election. “The next morning we all wake up as Americans” who work on problems together, Donald said.

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More specifically, Donald said, “On the surface, President Trump will be pro-business. At the same time, I hope he does the right thing internationally. Most of our business is outside the U.S.”

In a follow-up about Cuba, Donald said that despite Trump’s campaign rhetoric about reversing President Obama’s openings toward Cuba, “I’m cautiously optimistic that bringing the two countries together is the right thing to do.”

Earlier this year, Carnival Corp.’s Fathom brand became the first line to regularly shuttle passengers between the U.S. and Cuba in over 50 years.

Donald said Carnival continues to work on a private destination in the Bahamas but isn’t ready to announce anything. Carnival executives have said in the past they have a potential site picked out on Grand Bahama Island.

“We want the right one on the right terms,” Donald said. “We think we have something coming soon, but we don’t want to count the chickens before they hatch, so to speak.”

Donald took the chance to show the audience of several hundred travel agents clips from the new Carnival-produced Saturday-morning network TV shows, such as “Vacation Creation” and “Ocean Treks with Jeff Corwin.”

He also regaled the group with a tale of highlights from his rise to CEO of Carnival Corp. He said his initial introduction to Carnival Corp. chairman Mickey Arison was engineered by board member Uzi Zucker, a Bear Stearns partner who also served as an adviser to a private equity firm of which Donald was a part.

He also told about his ambition as an 11th-grader to be a very specific level of manager at a specific type of Fortune 50 company. He said the teachers at the all-boys Catholic high school in New Orleans he attended on scholarship constantly reminded their students to think big.

“Three times a day they told us, ‘Gentlemen, prepare yourselves. You’re going to run the world.'”

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Carnival Corporation chief backs UK trade push

The chief executive of Carnival Corporation has backed his UK team to develop relations with the trade, but urged agents to speak out if they were unhappy with the cruise giant’s strategy.

Speaking at the 10th annual Clia conference in Southampton, Arnold Donald said he had “every confidence” in the Carnival UK team, who he said would “talk to the trade, listen and learn”.

His comments came after Carnival UK’s vice president for sales Alex White vowed to have “agents at the heart” of the P&O Cruises and Cunard business in the future, following a mixed history with the trade which included a swathe of commission cuts in 2011.

Donald said: “We have increased our team by 30% under the leadership of Alex White, we have our Cunard and P&O Cruises Partnership Team that we’ve implemented and we have our training academy which we are refining and revamping.

“You (the trade) told us that we were on the right track and we absolutely want to keep listening and figuring out how we can continue enhancing.

“I have every confidence in David Noyes, who leads Carnival UK, and Alex and his expanded team to make sure we have enough people contact (with the trade) and make sure we’re talking to you and listening and learning so we can deliver what you need to build your business and in turn build our business and I think we’re on the track.

“You tell us, and if we’re not we’ll correct it and make sure we get on the right track.”

Cruise chief targets ‘pirate’ shore excursion operators

Photo courtesy of Dave Jones

by Hollie-Rae Merrick

Cruise lines need to educate agents about the value of selling shore excursions to stop “pirate third-party operators stealing guests”, the boss of the world’s largest cruise company has claimed.

Carnival Corporation chief executive Arnold Donald told the Clia conference in Southampton that there was scope to improve the promotion and sales of both onboard and destination-based experiences.

“There has only been one year since 2006 that onboard revenues didn’t go up,” he said. “Despite any changes in the industry, onboard revenues have continued to grow.

“Those changes include shore excursions where you have a lot of, what we call pirates, but they call themselves independent operators, stealing our guests on shore excursions that they ought to be booking with us.

“It’s a missed opportunity for us.”

Donald said that working with agents would help customers differentiate between shore tours provided through cruise lines and others.

“Some of those tours aren’t the same,” he added. “They may go to the same places but they aren’t the same.

“They may not have the same insurance, they may not have the same quality guides and consumers buying online doesn’t know all that. We have to do a better job at that.

“There are so many opportunities on this.”

Donald went on to praise the performance of the UK market which he described as “robust” and performing well.

He claimed the UK was on a “positive trajectory from a Carnival standpoint”, but admitted that the industry needed to “manage smarter and not panic on price”.

He said it was important to “hang in there a little bit longer on price” to help drive up the average cruise fare.