Carnival exec foresees rebound

By Tom Stieghorst
Howard FrankSOUTHAMPTON, England — The vice chairman of Carnival Corp., Howard Frank, said smoother seas are ahead for the world's biggest cruise company.

Carnival has been buffeted by weak demand and negative publicity since February when an engine fire on the Carnival Triumph made headlines.

Prices for Carnival's flagship brand have since dropped 15-20% in the estimation of some Wall Street analysts.

Interviewed here prior to the naming ceremony of the Royal Princess, the latest Princess Cruises ship, Frank said, "I think we've bottomed, from the standpoint of the business."

Frank said weekly surveys of consumer sentiment commissioned by Carnival are also starting to get better. That is at odds with a recently released Harris Interactive poll that showed continued erosion in consumer sentiment about seven cruise brands.

Frank said Carnival's survey asks different questions and is more current than the Harris data from May. But he said the recovery will be gradual.

"I don't think that you turn the Costa situation or the Carnival situation around overnight," he said.

"Some of it is just time," he added. "We've had a number of incidents."

The $735 million Royal Princess was named by the Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, in a pierside ceremony documented by 110 media representatives, Princess officials said.

"We're pleased to provide a good news story for the industry," said Jan Swartz, Princess’ executive vice president of marketing.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly.
 
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