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.

Royal Caribbean cancels Independence 2020 ex-UK season

 


Independence of the Seas in Southampton by Dave Jones

Royal Caribbean has cancelled Independence of the Seas’ ex-UK season next summer.

The 4,560-passenger ship was due to operate cruises from Southampton to Europe, alongside Anthem of the Seas, from May 2020. It will now offer Caribbean sailings from Fort Lauderdale in Florida instead.

The line insisted the move was not a reflection of a softer UK market, but rather in response to “phenomenal demand” from North America.

The ship was understood to be “well-sold” but the line declined to reveal how many UK passengers – and the agents who booked them – are affected by the move.

Ben Bouldin, associate vice president and managing director, Royal Caribbean International UK & Ireland, said guests affected by the itinerary change will be offered full refunds, and a ‘Future Cruise Credit’ for use on alternative sailings – valued at 25% of the cruise fare paid on their cancelled sailing.

Guests booked on the transatlantic sailings will be offered an alternative sailing on Anthem of the Seas, which is also sailing ex-UK to Europe in summer 2020, along with onboard credit based on their stateroom category and sailing length.

Non-refundable airline charges will be reimbursed, and full refunds are given to those who wish to cancel.

Bouldin stressed: “This is not a reflection on the UK market but rather a response to the phenomenal demand we’re seeing in North America.  Ex-UK 2020 sales have been buoyant since our ‘on sale now’ campaign back in November 2018 and we are also seeing strong demand from UK guests for sailings outside of Europe, particularly in the Caribbean and Asia-Pacific regions.

“The UK continues to be an important market for Royal Caribbean.”

President and chief executive Michael Bayley had expressed nervousness around the UK market because of the Brexit situation, before confirming the deployment of Anthem to Southampton, which would more than double the line’s ex-UK capacity.

Last year, he said: “The big thing for us is the value of sterling. We are an American company. All of our revenues have to come back to us in dollars. When Brexit hit, that was a 15% cut. The UK is a big side of our business.”

But he later confirmed Anthem would indeed join Independence, saying: “We experience volatility in all the markets that we operate in. Our strategy has been a continuation, protect, optimise and carry on the journey; that is why we announced that Anthem is coming to the UK in 2020.

“By the time we have got through 2019, we will be in a far more stable environment. A lot of the choppiness will have stabilised. We are hoping but we don’t know. This kind of uncertainty is not good for business.”

This was before the Brexit deadline was delayed another six months to October 31, 2019.

Bouldin added: “The benefit of our global business model is that we are able to reposition ships to satisfy the demand of our guests.  In this case, demand is high in the Caribbean, especially for itineraries to Perfect Day at CocoCay in the Bahamas, and keeping Independence of the Seas in Florida allows us to meet the demand.”

Independence of the Seas, which came back into service after a multi-million-pound refit in May 2018, is the most popular of all Royal Caribbean ships among UK agents and their customers. A Royal Caribbean spokeswoman confirmed that agents with customers booked on Independence of the Seas for summer 2020 sailings will keep the commission they have earned.

She added that the line is hoping that many affected passengers will transfer to Anthem of the Seas, which it pointed out was a larger and newer vessel.

Royal Caribbean will be sending letters to all affected passengers this morning (Thurs) to let them know of the decision and to outline their alternative options. It will also be contacting trade partners.

Norwegian Breakaway to homeport in New Orleans

Norwegian Breakaway
Norwegian Cruise Line said its 4,000-passenger Norwegian Breakaway will move its homeport to New Orleans starting in the fall of 2018.

The ship, which has a large painting of the New York skyline on its hull, has been sailing from New York since its 2013 debut and has a number of New York-themed features.

The Breakaway will make the move after completing a summer season in the Baltics in 2018. It will arrive in New Orleans on November 11, 2018 and will sail a variety of cruises to the Caribbean through April 7, 2019.

Norwegian said the Norwegian Gem, which had been scheduled to sail from New Orleans in 2018/19 will instead go to New York and sail a series of cruises to the Caribbean, Canada & New England and the Bahamas & Florida. In the summer of 2018, the Norwegian Escape will be repositioned to New York from Miami for the first time to do seven-day sailings to Bermuda.