China ‘Stronger Than Last Year’ For Carnival Corp

Costa Serena

“The bottom line is things are stronger for sure that they were last year at this time,” said Arnold Donald, president and CEO of Carnival Corporation, touching on China on the company’s Monday morning second quarter earnings call.

Donald said he still believes China will eventually be the largest cruise market in the world and putting in new hardware (ships) still made sense.

“The market there is very large in terms of overall travel, both from cities in China and, of course, as a huge potential source market for fly/cruise all over the world,” Donald said.

“In terms of the distribution system itself, yes, we’ve moved from full-ship charters primarily now to group sales and partial ship charters,” he continued. “We’ve added a large number of additional distributors. All of that kind of de-risks things a bit from being overly concentrated and what, in effect, today is still pretty much a B2B market. The direct sales component is slowly growing a bit there. There’s an opportunity to grow that over time. But a timeline in China, we’ll see. It’s a small market.

“I don’t see a dramatic increase in per cent of total capacity in the short term there. And the reason is not so much because of China, but because of the demand everywhere else in the world. And then as I mentioned, there are large addressable markets everywhere in the world that are under-penetrated, including the United States.

“And so it looks positive for the year on a relative basis so far. But China’s China, and we have to see how things play out for the full year,” Donald said.

“But right now, conditionally, things definitely look stronger. In terms of sanctions, we haven’t heard of any sanctions on either side that would directly impact the cruise industry.”

Travel to Korea is still unofficially restricted, and Donald said if that opens up, it could help the situation.

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P&O Cruises’ Britannia to make St Lucia debut in 2016

P&O Britannia

P&O Cruises’ newest ship, Britannia, is to sail from St Lucia for the first time as part of its winter 2016-17 deployment in the Caribbean.

An expanded fly-cruise programme of new seven-night cruises alongside traditional 14-night winter sun itineraries went on sale yesterday (Thursday).

Britannia will run a total of 28 Caribbean cruises from St Lucia or Barbados during its second winter season in the region.

The ships will depart from the new Caribbean port for the first time on November 12, 2016 on a seven-night itinerary with calls into Dominica, Antigua, St Maarten and Barbados.

The line described St Lucia as a “must-see” Caribbean destination for its passengers.

Marketing director, Christopher Edgington, said: “Introducing new itineraries which all depart or return St Lucia will offer a new dimension to our Caribbean cruises.

“St Lucia is a popular destination with passengers and no other cruise line has it as a home port, so we are looking to make the most of this by offering an exciting range of shore excursions to maximise the time there.

“It is also the first time we have offered a seven-night Caribbean cruise option. These new week-long itineraries will appeal to those wishing to escape the cold weather and see a number of destinations but who don’t have the time for a longer cruise.

“For passengers with more leisure time, our 14-night cruises provide the perfect opportunity to see more than seven islands in one holiday.”

Prices for seven-night Caribbean fly-cruises start at £1,099 per person for an inside cabin and a 14-nights from £1,299, including return flights from Gatwick.

MSC Cruises to halt ex-UK sailings in 2015

By Hollie-Rae Merrick 

MSC Cruises to halt ex-UK sailings in 2015MSC Cruises is halting its ex-UK sailings in 2015 as it looks to focus on its fly-cruise Mediterranean offering.

As part of the major refit of Lirica class ships, MSC Opera – currently sailing out of Southampton – will be out of action for part of the summer months in 2015.

The cruise line said this led to a decision to halt ex-UK sailings for a year to focus on fly-cruise capacity out of the UK.

Giles Hawke, executive director for UK, Ireland and Australia, said the line would be introducing new tools to support agents booking fly-cruises with MSC.

He said: “As market leader for Mediterranean cruises it is important that we work to reinforce this position by increasing our fly-cruise capacity, along with improving our ships to include more balcony cabins, more onboard entertainment and additional technological advancements.

“We are considering various charter options and working with our air partners to come up with the best approach to keep up with the current customer demand for fly-cruises direct to the Mediterranean.

“We will also be introducing tools supporting travel agents in order to make the fly-cruise booking process easier than ever.”

In total the Lirica class ships, made up of MSC Armonia, MSC Sinfonia, MSC Opera and MSC Lirica, will be in dry dock for 28 weeks.

In September, the cruise line revealed it was doubling its capacity out of Southampton for this year by sending MSC Magnifica to join Opera for four seven-night cruises.