Good agents find the right cruise for first-timers, says Carnival CEO

By Tom Stieghorst
ArnoldDonaldCarnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald said the entire cruise industry has a stake in travel agents fitting the first-time cruiser to the right product.

Speaking Friday on a conference call exclusively for media outlets that follow Carnival Corp., Donald said, “If a first-time cruiser has just an okay experience, or an experience that wasn’t right for them, not only does it hurt them but it also hurts in terms of all the other people they talk to about their experience.

“That’s where the travel professional can play a huge role in ascertaining what’s the best fit for this person, this couple, this family.”

Donald also said Carnival Corp. has no current plans to enter the river cruise segment and that the company is unlikely to do so in the future.

Donald said that to have any meaningful impact on Carnival’s earnings, it would have to go very big.
“You would need a huge number of ships to have any scale,” Donald said.

Although river cruises are currently in high demand, each vessel only carries a few hundred guests, compared to thousands on most of Carnival’s 10 brands.

“It is a successful business, for what it is. For it to impact our financial performance, we would need a lot of riverboats,” he said.

Donald reiterated Carnival Corp.’s commitment to luxury ocean cruising. The company is expanding its Seabourn subsidiary by building larger ships and divesting smaller ones. He said the word-of-mouth from satisfied Seabourn guests is a potent marketing tool.

Follow Tom Stieghorst on Twitter @tstravelweekly. 
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