Princess Cruises claims Medallion Net offers ‘best WiFi at sea’

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Princess Cruises claims it has rolled out the “best WiFi at sea” which will help attract new-to-cruise passengers.

Princess Cruises has fitted nine ships with Medallion Net WiFi so far and plans to complete rolling it out across its fleet by July next year.

The WiFi will power the line’s Ocean Medallion technology, which is fitted on new ship Sky Princess.

Speaking onboard the ship during its shakedown cruise from Trieste to Athens, Prag Shah, the line’s global head, experience and innovation, said: “One of the biggest detractors people have of cruising – like the younger generation – is that they cannot be connected as well as on a land-based holiday.

“Millennials always like to be posting and sharing their experiences with everybody.

“We wanted to make connectivity onboard better and a lot of effort and creativity went in to do that. From a cruising standpoint, being able to promote and sell longer cruises brings another type of cruiser into the equation.”

John Padgett, Carnival Corporation’s chief experience and innovation officer, addressed media and travel agents via the internet to demonstrate the connection strength on the new vessel.

He said: “There are no longer any sacrifices by coming on a cruise vacation. Cruise holidays have been an amazing value for years, but you have tended to sacrifice this feeling of connectivity.

“There are no longer any sacrifices there. We are the only cruise line that offers anything like this. I want you to use as much bandwidth as you like because that makes your experience better.”

Padgett told the audience Medallion Net, which costs $9.99 per day, as the “best WiFi at sea”.

Sky Princess is the first of the line’s vessels which was built with Ocean Medallion. Several guest services, including ordering food and drink anywhere on the ship, locating friends and family, and navigating your way around the vessel are available through the wearable technology.

The line has retrofitted four of its existing ships with Ocean Medallion.

When asked what developments would be made to Ocean Medallion technology going forward, Shah said: “Personalising [Ocean Medallion] is going to be where we are putting a lot more focus [in 2020].”

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Arison on Carnival Corp.’s post-Concordia changes

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There was some interesting back-and-forth last week in federal court between Carnival Corp. chairman Micky Arison and U.S. District Court Judge Patricia Seitz that started out predictably but veered into unexpected territory.

Arison had been summoned to a status conference in the ongoing probation proceedings that Carnival is involved in as a result of Princess Cruises pleading guilty to environmental crimes in 2016.

Seitz was there to hold Carnival’s feet to the fire, in a bid to stop continuing violations of environmental laws that have put her in a position of having to harangue Carnival about the problems.

Then she took a less confrontational tack.

“What do you love about being in your business, Mr Arison?”

Arison, one of the few people in a room full of lawyers and consultants who have actually worked on a cruise ship, recounted his 50-year career at Carnival, which included 32 years as its CEO.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve accomplished,” Arison said. “Obviously we wouldn’t be here if we were perfect.”

Seitz then expressed her admiration for how Carnival reformed some of its processes after the sinking of the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13, 2012.

“That was the worst day of my life,” Arison admitted in a hoarse voice.

Arison told Seitz that the Concordia illustrates some of the unique dilemmas in the cruise business that are not always understood by those outside the industry. As an example, he said, Carnival Corp. trains its bridge officers to work as a team. But the Italian Coast Guard, which trains Carnival’s Italian officer corps, had a different approach.

That meant that creating a uniform safety culture across Carnival’s 10 brands was hard to achieve.

“The Italian rules at that time were archaic,” Arison said. “The captain was the master. Other team members [on the bridge] could not question the captain.” Arison said Carnival lobbied hard with the Italian government to change the rules, but only after the Concordia accident were the changes made.

Seitz also had praise for the Arison Maritime Center, which Carnival opened in 2016 in Almere, the Netherlands. There, the company trains 6,500 bridge and engineering officers annually, in state-of-the-art simulators. That also gives the company a roadmap for change, she said.

Arison said that his family — and himself personally — was proud of having created the training centre. “We never put our name on a building in Miami,” he added, despite plenty of offers. “That was one building we were proud to put our name on.”

Carnival’s Q3 profit rises, but storm clouds are on the horizon

Carnival Corp. reported higher third quarter-net income, but reduced its outlook for the 2019 fiscal year and said that business in Europe and the U.S. had eroded since it last reported results three months ago.

Reacting to the mix of news, investors pushed Carnival shares down 7% in mid-morning trading on Thursday.

Carnival said net income for the quarter ended Aug. 31 was $1.78 billion, up from $1.71 billion a year earlier, while revenue rose to $6.53 billion from $5.84 billion.

Carnival also reported higher earnings adjusted for nonrecurring factors, but forecast that earnings for the full year would fall in the range of $4.23 to $4.27 a share, compared to a previous range of $4.25 to $4.35 put forth in June and actual results of $4.26 a share in 2018.

Carnival blamed higher anticipated fuel prices for the reduction.

“We achieved additional cost improvements largely driven by leveraging our scale, offsetting the earnings impact due to voyage disruptions from the combined impact of Hurricane Dorian, the tensions in the Arabian Gulf and the delayed delivery of Costa Smeralda,” Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.

“A further reduction in guidance for ticket and onboard revenue worth 6 cents per share in part contributed to by the high level of close-in voyage disruptions was also offset. However, due to an 8 cent a share impact from the recent spike in fuel prices caused by geopolitical events, we are reducing our full-year guidance for 2019 by 5 cents a share,” Donald said.

Carnival said it expects it’s North America and Australia segment yields to be up for the year, but slightly less than previous guidance while its Europe and Asia segment is still expected to be down for the year but slightly more than previous guidance.

It also said: “Cumulative advanced bookings for the first half of 2020 are ahead of the prior year at prices that are in line compared to 2019 on a comparable basis. Since June, both booking volumes and prices for the first half of next year have been running lower than the prior year.”

By mid-afternoon Thursday, Carnival shares were trading at $44.14, off 8.2% from Wednesday’s close.