Carnival UK insists sales team cuts are ‘forced necessity’

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Carnival UK has confirmed its sales team will be reduced following a consultation launched as a result of the Covid-19 crisis but insisted the move was a “forced necessity” due to social distancing measures and limitations on agency visits.

The cruise giant completed a consultation period on Tuesday, with 450 roles – nearly a third of Carnival UK’s shore-based staff – being made redundant.

Several staff of P&O Cruises, Cunard, Princess, Holland America Line and Seabourn highlighted their jobs were at risk on social media channels in recent weeks. Among those who posted are Chloe Palmer and Neal Hussey, who were both in the P&O Cruises sales team; Richard Cross, who worked in Cunard’s sales team; Princess Cruises’ commercial director Chris Barnaville; Andrea Jones and Charlotte Brailsford, who were both in the Princess agency sales team.

Carnival UK declined to confirm how many trades facing sales roles had been lost.

In addition to the redundancies, Carnival UK confirmed that “another significant proportion” of staff will take a period of sabbatical, a group understood to include Cunard’s UK sales director Gary Anslow. Travel Weekly believes Anslow has taken a six-month sabbatical and will return early January.

P&O Cruises’ president Paul Ludlow said the company was “devastated to have to take this action which has affected so many talented and dedicated colleagues”.

Despite the reduction in an agency facing roles in the sales team, Ludlow insisted the brand’s commitment to the trade “remained as strong as ever”.

During the consultation period, a member of staff, who was at risk and asked to remain anonymous, said the move was “completely the wrong decision”, claiming 60% of P&O Cruises’ UK bookings come from travel agents.

In a statement, Ludlow said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has not only affected the holidays of our guests but it has also impacted every part of our business; our future deployment; the guest experience; our supply chain and our people on the ship and onshore.

“Due to this impact, we have had to make some really tough decisions to ensure that we can sustain and protect our business for the future. Following a period of collective consultation, nearly a third of our shore-based staff will very sadly be leaving our business on June 30 and another significant proportion will take a period of sabbatical.

“We are devastated to have to take this action which has affected so many talented and dedicated colleagues.

“We appreciate it is a very difficult and unsettling time for everyone but we have followed a clear and fair consultation process and considered all individual suggestions for new ways of working.

“At the current time as our operations are paused, we are working at the highest levels to develop a comprehensive restart programme to phase our ships back into service with enhanced and approved protocols that will keep everyone on board well and still give our guests an amazing holiday.

“Our commitment to the travel trade remains as strong as ever. The reduction in the sales team was, very sadly, a forced necessity due to social distancing and the limitations of the shop and office visits.

“We remain committed to developing new ways of working to best support our agent partners encouraging agent feedback and including training and regular communication through our 15,000 strong agent Shine programme. We would like to take this opportunity to reaffirm our sincere thanks to all our agent partners for their mutual work supporting our guests during our pause in operations and we look forward to working together as we develop our re-start plans.”

Carnival Corporation Downgraded to Junk Status

A person stretches at a park overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Carnival Panorama cruise ship as authorities encourage social distancing to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Long Beach, California Sunday, March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon

Rating agency Standard & Poor’s on Tuesday downgraded bonds of Carnival Corp to junk status, forecasting continued weak demand for the cruise industry hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Standard & Poor’s cut its rating on the world’s biggest cruise operator’s secured bonds to ‘BB+’ from ‘BBB-‘, and its unsecured bonds to ‘BB-‘ from ‘BBB-‘. Both are now regarded as non-investment grade or junk bonds.

Carnival’s overall issuer credit rating was also lowered to ‘BB-‘ from ‘BBB-‘. Last month, Moody’s Investors Service also cut the company’s rating to junk status.

Earlier in June, Carnival reported a record $4.4 billion in preliminary quarterly losses after its business was crippled by the health crisis, forcing it to take major write-downs on the disposal of some docked ships.

The company, which in recent weeks fully drew down a $3 billion credit line and issued $6.6 billion in bonds and equity, has also been looking for further waivers on debt repayments due next year, without which it could breach some loan conditions.

“We forecast that the company’s credit measures will remain very weak through 2021 and anticipate that its adjusted leverage may potentially exceed 10x in 2021 following a significant deterioration in its performance in 2020,” S&P said in a statement.

S&P has a “BB” issuer credit rating, also a junk status, on Carnival rival Royal Caribbean Corp. (Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2020.

Carnival Cruise Line: applying learnings from its largest-ever refurbishment

Carnival Triumph’s transformation into Carnival Sunrise includes a suspended ropes course as part of its sports square (credit: Andy Newman)
Carnival Triumph’s transformation into Carnival Sunrise includes a suspended ropes course as part of its sports square (credit: Andy Newman)Carnival Triumph’s transformation into Carnival Sunrise includes a suspended ropes course as part of its sports square (credit: Andy Newman)
Carnival Cruise Line vice president revitalisation and hotel refurbishment Lisa McCabe opens up on the transformation of Carnival Sunrise and how this will be incorporated into Carnival Victory’s revitalisation In 2019 Carnival Cruise Line carried out the largest refurbishment in its history – and it is using those learnings as it plans a major retrofit for Carnival Sunrise

Carnival Cruise Line vice president revitalisation and hotel refurbishment Lisa McCabe explains “At US$200M, the transformation of Carnival Triumph into Carnival Sunrise was the largest single-ship refurbishment in our company’s history, involving a 38-day drydock in Cadiz, Spain with 7,000 ship employees and contractors working 24/7 to make Carnival Sunrise a reality.

“Given the complexity of the refit, the process was streamlined and efficient. The end result is simply amazing – new dining and beverage outlets, exciting top-deck attractions including a massive water park and a suspended ropes course, updated staterooms and suites, enhanced guest flow and a more contemporary feel overall.”

The company is now gearing up for another major transformation – that of Carnival Victory’s transformation into Carnival Radiance.

Carnival Sunrise includes exciting new top-deck attractions, including a massive water park (credit: Andy Newman)

Enter Carnival Radiance

Ms McCabe says “We learned so much from the Carnival Sunrise drydock and have incorporated these learnings as we began the planning for Carnival Victory’s transformation into Carnival Radiance. Not only in the work itself but in all aspects of the refit, from staffing, working with suppliers and vendors and the logistical challenges that come with a project of this magnitude. Our designers have also changed the layout for Carnival Radiance – relocating the Guy Fieri BBQ to enhance visibility and ultimately drive more traffic.”

Carnival Radiance will also feature the first Big Chicken restaurant by its Chief Fun Officer Shaquille O’Neal. “Incorporating a brand new restaurant concept into a renovated ship has its share of challenges – from sourcing materials to equipment and logos – but we worked closely with our internal design teams as well as Shaq’s personnel to create a dining venue we’re sure our guests will enjoy,” says Ms McCabe.

Elaborating on Carnival Cruise Line’s refurbishment strategy, she says “All 27 of our ships undergo a refit every few years and between 2020 and 2021, 13 ships – roughly half our fleet – will undergo a drydock with the work being done varying by ship. Interestingly, because of a lack of drydock space here in North America, we’re refurbishing more ships in Europe which can create even more logistical and staffing challenges given that it’s not as close as our other facilities and we have to sail across the Atlantic just to get there and back. Our marketing and itinerary planning teams are hard at work creating attractive new transatlantic crossings for our guest.”

She expands that every ship in the fleet will undergo at least one major refurbishment during its lifetime and “our focus is making sure we are able to schedule these drydocks and closely manage not only the schedule but also staffing, logistics, design and provisioning to ensure we deliver a quality refit on time and on a budget”.

These refits are part of a US$2Bn ship enhancement project that is introducing new features and standardising offerings across the fleet.

Popular amenities

Ms McCabe says “With many of these refurbishments, we are adding spaces that have proven very popular with our guests – the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub, the cocktail pharmacy-themed Alchemy Bar, expansive water parks and the transformation of the three-deck main theatre into the multi-purpose Liquid Lounge across two decks which allows for a more intimate space with enhanced sightlines while at the same time providing an opportunity to add staterooms in the previous space.”

She points out that the upcoming refurbishment of Carnival Miracle will mark the installation of the 27th Guy’s Burger Joint by longtime partner and Food Network star Guy Fieri so the venues are now available fleetwide.

Asked about the current challenges when it comes to refurbishing the interiors of the cruise ships, Ms McCabe says “Refurbishing ship interiors is an extremely involved and complex process that begins several years before the refit actually takes place. It is imperative that we come up with creative solutions that offer the guest new experiences while also satisfying the needs of our operational teams on board. Real estate is very valuable, and it is important to make spaces multifunctional. In addition to securing quality vendors and subcontractors to refurbish the space the way it was designed, the overall look and feel have to be eye-catching, functional and timeless as it will likely be on the ship for many years.”

Sustainability is also a priority when it comes to interior refits. Ms McCabe says “Being a leader in environmental stewardship is a top priority for Carnival Cruise Line and this, of course, extends to our ship refurbishment programme. We take sustainability into account in everything we do – from the materials, we source to the vendors we use and how they work is carried out each day. We are constantly evaluating our procedures and processes to make sure we are operating in a way that reflects our commitment to being an environmental leader.”

Snapshot CV: Lisa McCabe (Carnival Cruise Line)

Managing Multiple Drydock Projects For Biggest Fleet - Cruise ...

Lisa McCabe joined Carnival Corp in 2009 and moved to Carnival Cruise Line to build the refurbishment department in 2012.

She leads a team of project managers responsible for most of the cruise line’s large-scale drydock projects throughout the fleet that includes adding new branded food and beverage venues, stateroom renovations and additions, water parks and upgrades to crew spaces. During her time at Carnival Cruise Line, Ms McCabe has been responsible for over 500 refurbishment projects in shipyards throughout the US, the Bahamas, and Singapore.

Ms McCabe studied interior design at Florida International University and has focused her career on refurbishing ships.