Carnival Corp. to proceed cautiously with Ocean Medallion

Arnold Donald, left, with Travel Weekly’s Arnie Weissmann at CruiseWorld. Photo Credit: Creative FocusFORT LAUDERDALE — Carnival Corp. is taking a slow approach to introducing Ocean Medallion technology, making sure it works right and is delivering the services that customers really want, CEO Arnold Donald said Friday at Travel Weekly’s CruiseWorld.

Speaking to travel agents at the conference, Donald said the technology is so transformational that Carnival Corp. doesn’t want to create a future shock for past passengers.

The Ocean Medallion is a wearable disc that can be worn as a pendant, wristband or clip. Besides functioning as a stateroom key and streamlining the boarding process, the device is billed as a “personal concierge.” When used in tandem with the Ocean Compass app, the Ocean Medallion will enable passengers to make dinner reservations, order drinks to be delivered where they are located, receive excursion invitations based on interests, and play casino games anywhere on the ship.

“We’ve got to be really intelligent about how we introduce this because it’s different,” Donald said.

Carnival Corp. did a multimillion-dollar upgrade of the Regal Princess’ terminal at Port Everglades to create a new embarkation experience. “When guests walk through that terminal, it doesn’t feel like what they’re used to, so we want to manage all the unintended reactions,” Donald said.The first ship to have the Ocean Medallion, Princess Cruises’ Regal Princess, was to offer it on the entire 3,560-passenger ship starting Nov. 13, but the rollout has been scaled back to select guests and groups.

The MedallionNet rapid Internet service, which is in use on the whole ship, is drawing rave reviews, Donald said.

Carnival Corp. is targeting the 2018 first quarter for a wider introduction of the Ocean Medallion. “The guests will decide what they want, how they want it when they want it. That’s why we’re introducing it slowly to make sure we get it right because it’s truly transformational,” Donald said.

Carnival is also moving deliberately on developing a new $200 million beach destination in Grand Bahama. Donald said Carnival signed a deal to build the destination just before a change in government in the Bahamas.

“We’re working closely with the new government to make sure we’ve got the right location, the right development concepts and that it will work for the locals,” Donald said. “It’s not just a matter of building a destination, but building a destination that’s woven through the local community. We hope to have that destination completed in the next few years, but it is a process.”

Donald was also asked why Carnival sells through warehouse club Costco, which uses gift cards convertible to cash as a rebate when club members buy cruises

“I don’t have an easy answer for any of these big-scale folks that go low-cost,” Donald responded. “You have to match up your business where it really will compete effectively.”

He said agents that provide personal service and client understanding will not suffer from bottom-feeder competition, but he said Carnival will look at the issue. “We would prefer to see strong pricing,” he said. “There’s no big reason to be discounting today.”

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Royal Caribbean Cruises to buy Adonia from P&O Cruises

Royal Caribbean Cruises to buy Adonia from P&O Cruises

Azamara Club Cruises is to buy P&O Cruises’ ship Adonia, taking its fleet to three ships.

The 30,000-ton ship will join Royal Caribbean Cruises’ upmarket Azamara fleet in March 2018.

It will be renamed Azamara Pursuit and will join two similar-sized ships – Azamara Journey and Azamara Quest.

The 704-passenger ship will undergo refurbishment before Azamara takes delivery. Information about deployment and itineraries will be released in October.

Adonia’s last cruise for P&O will be on February 23 to March 9 starting and ending in Barbados.

Guests booked on any Adonia cruises after March 2018 will be contacted directly either by P&O Cruises or their travel agent.

Adonia returned to P&O’s fleet in Southampton in June after a year on secondment to social impact brand Fathom when it ran the first US sailings from Miami to Cuba in 50 years.

Most recently, the adults-only ship has been running a series of “discovery” itineraries with P&O, including a seven-night cruise to Bordeaux, Honfleur and Guernsey.

P&O Cruises senior vice president Paul Ludlow said: “During her time with us Adonia has captured the hearts of many thousands of P&O Cruises guests. She has ventured into new ports of call around the globe and has negotiated Icelandic Fjords, European rivers and Caribbean coves. We will ensure that these discovery itineraries are continued on other ships in the fleet.

“With almost six months until Adonia leaves the fleet, we will ensure that each of the cruises in her final season with us are extra special and celebratory.”

President and chief executive of Azamara Club Cruises Larry Pimental said: “We are pleased to expand our portfolio by 50%, allowing us to visit even more regions of the world through the acquisition of this sister ship.

“Our loyal guests and travel partners have asked for this expansion for a long time; we are very pleased to deliver this to them.”

Last year, Pimentel described extra capacity in the luxury cruise sector as “too much, too quick and too fast” and warned it would drive down prices.

Earlier this month Silversea Cruises announced it would launch a new ship in 2020 and unveiled plans to build two more.

Ritz-Carlton also revealed its plans to enter the cruise sector with three yachts, while Celebrity Cruises has three ships on order, Ponant has four, and Crystal Cruises, Scenic, Seabourn and Star Clippers also have new vessels set to launch.

Carnival Announces Digital Streaming Channel

Carnival Announces Digital Streaming Channel