A ‘Confident’ Carnival Cruise Line plans more European deployment

Carnival Legends signature Funnel. Photo credit Dave Jones

Carnival Cruise Line’s chief operating officer has suggested more ships will be deployed in Europe after the line gained “confidence” in the US market.

The US-based line has 18 homeports around North America and has never consistently based ships in Europe.

There were no Carnival ships based in Europe last summer.

However, Carnival Legend and Carnival Radiance will both operate in the Mediterranean next summer while yet-to-launch 5,200-passenger Mardi Gras will visit the UK as it repositions to the US.

Carnival will offer nine departures out of Dover on 2,124-passenger vessel Carnival Legend in 2021.

Speaking on the maiden voyage of the line’s new ship Carnival Panorama in the Mexican Riviera, Gus Antorcha said: “With Europe, we focused and then pulled back a little bit and then focused. You will see Europe becoming more important.

Dover seafront photo credit Dave Jones

“We have grown in the US so that gives us more confidence that we can fill a ship at good yields and there is still demand. When we design the right deployment in Europe, it is very popular.”

Antorcha said it was vital that when Carnival tries a market “we should try and stay there for a number of years” as agents were able to build their knowledge and learn from customer feedback.

“It is easier to sell if you’re selling the same product,” he added. “It gives consistency. Some of our sister lines and competitors are moving ships all over the world and they are adding new itineraries every week. That is harder to sell if you are sell.

“If you are selling a consistent product you build the feedback on the product.”

Iain Baillie, the line’s vice president of international sales, called on agents to encourage the line to base ships in Europe by ensuring passengers were “profitable”.

“It is up to us,” he said. “It is how we educate our guests. We want to make sure our guests are profitable – we want them to choose the bars, the casino and the excursions. If we can get those metrics correct we can keep the ships coming.

“For us to have nine ex-Dover departures [in 2021] – we are going to jump all over that. It is going to be a race though because that [European] deployment is very popular with the US market.”

Christine Duffy, the line’s president, told Travel Weekly: “We feel with Carnival Legend – a Spirit-class ship – we can have some consistent European summer deployment.

“We will put the capacity where we feel we can generate the demand.”

Antorcha said the line’s net promoter scores given by passengers had risen by “25% to 30%” since he first took over as chief operating officer in November 2017. Antorcha briefly left Carnival earlier this year to become the chief executive of SeaWorld Entertainment before returning in October to his former role.

“Now we are north of 50ish, which is very high,” he said.

Carnival speciality restaurant will make food faces on the plates.

Rudi Sodamin with a "food face" made with smoked salmon.

Rudi Sodamin with a “food face” made with smoked salmon.

Fun with food is coming to the Carnival Mardi Gras.

A new seafood restaurant designed by chef Rudi Sodamin called Rudi’s Seagrill will feature dishes with the ingredients arranged in playful “food faces.”

Carnival said the menu will feature a selection of appetizers, entrees and desserts presented as food faces, including big eye tuna, grilled branzino, seared scallops and apple cheesecake.

“I believe the quality of a restaurant starts on the plate, so with Rudi’s Seagrill, I want guests to enjoy the food and feel connected to their meals in a fun and engaging way,” Sodamin said.

To date, Sodamin has been primarily associated with Holland America Line, where he is head of the Culinary Council of chefs and has his own seafood bistro on several ships.

Sodamin also published a book last year called “Food Faces: 150 Feasts for the Eyes.”

Situated on Deck 8 between La Piazza and Summer Landing, Rudi’s Seagrill will have an 80-seat indoor dining room with warm lighting and stylish design elements as well as an alfresco area on the Lanai, Carnival said.

There will be a reservations fee “in line with Carnival’s other full-service speciality restaurants.”

The Mardi Gras is scheduled to launch in Europe on Aug. 31, 2020, and arrive at Port Canaveral for Caribbean cruises in October.

Zero Emissions Target: First LNG Cruise Ship to the U.S.

Mardi Gras

Anticipating the first LNG-fueled cruise ship to sail out of a U.S. port, Carnival Cruise Line’s Mardi Gras, Tom Strang, senior vice president of maritime affairs for Carnival Corporation, told Cruise Industry News that the company has worked closely with Port Canaveral, the LNG supplier, the Coast Guard and other stakeholders, paving the way.

“There were little formal rules existing on ship-to-ship bunkering,” he explained, “so together with Shell and Port Canaveral, we have agreed to follow the standardized processes we developed for our bunkering operations in Europe, in Tenerife and Barcelona. Our LNG ships pretty much share the same technical platform enabling us to follow the same processes and procedures.”

Strang noted that crew and officers have been trained in the bunkering operation at CSMART where Carnival built a full-scale mock-up bunkering rig.

In addition, an engineering simulator was built for training purposes, and pilots also travelled to CSMART to learn how the ship will handle.

Explained Strang: “With LNG, the rate of loading of the engines is slightly slower with a gaseous fuel than with conventional fuel, but working with the engine manufacturer, the shipyard and Valmet’s automation engineers, we have been able to negate any major issues.

“Also, if there is an emergency and full power is needed immediately, the engines will switch over to diesel and you get an immediate response.”

In addition, some MGO has to be burnt routinely to keep it moving through the tanks, he added. It is also used as a pilot fuel for the LNG.

Bunkering by barge in Port Canaveral, the process for the Mardi Gras will take about six to eight hours, according to Strang. That is longer than conventional bunkering, and the goal is to find ways to speed up the process, while obviously maintaining safety, he noted.

LNG will take Carnival all the way to IMO’s 2030 greenhouse gas reduction target as far as the newbuilds are concerned. “We have 21 new ships on order,” Strang said, “and 10 of them are LNG, after the AIDAnova, which entered service late last year.

“The percentage of the fleet with LNG will be high. Later we will also see how we can continue to reduce our carbon emissions by potentially introducing biogas or synthetic gas into the supply chain.”