VOTERS APPROVED Ballot Measure 2, the cruise ship tax
initiative, which will place a $50 head tax on cruise passengers in
Alaska and subject the cruise lines to a list of new taxes and
regulations. Wording in the initiative indicates that the new rules
will take effect within 90 days of the vote's certification, after
the 2006 Alaska cruise season has ended, but parts of the
initiative are likely to be battled in court. Financial analysts
weren't fazed by the vote and estimated that in the long term the
measure would only slightly impact earnings per share and would not
weigh on demand.
CORP. CEO Micky Arison was quick to react to the outcome,
saying he was "disappointed" and that the initiative could "inhibit
the growth and expansion of Alaska's tourism business." Carnival
Corp. said that the gaming and income taxes might reduce 2007
earnings per share by approximately 3 cents per share. Arison added
that "the estimates of the impact of these taxes are being made
prior to our finalizing deployment, legal and other business
decisions that will need to be considered as a result of this
initiative." The company's brands carry 560,000 passengers annually
on 16 ships in Alaska.
EASYCRUISE netted a second franchise deal,
with Cyprus-based cruise ship operator Louis that could increase
the EasyCruise fleet to eight ships by 2011. EasyCruise and Louis
will increase EasyCruise's existing newbuild agreement with Greek
shipyard Neorion Holdings to three ships, with an option for three
more. The additional vessels will be owned by Louis and operated
under the EasyCruise brand. The deal also advances EasyCruise's
plan to expand the fleet via franchising. The move comes a month
after EasyCruise's first franchisee, the river boat EasyCruiseTwo,
which is owned and operated by Dutch company Boonstra River Line,
began operations from Amsterdam.
CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL will select one "extraordinary"
travel agent to serve as godmother of its upcoming ship, the
Liberty of the Seas. The company officially opened the polls Aug.
21 and invited consumers and agents to nominate an agent who has
done "extraordinary things in her community." An industry panel
will pick 10 semi-finalists and whittle that group down to three
agents before letting the public make the final decision via an
online vote. The winner will be revealed at the Cruise Lines
International Association's Cruise3sixty conference in Fort
Lauderdale, which starts March 30, a month before the Liberty of
the Seas debuts in New York.
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