Travel Weeklys Cruise E-letter: Oct. 26, 2004

WEVE GONE PAST the effects of Sept. 11, Royal Caribbean Cruises CEO Richard Fain said last week as the second-largest cruise company reported a 12.8% increase in third-quarter net yields, surpassing yield levels RCCL achieved during the third quarters in 1999 and 2000. Royal Caribbean Cruises net income jumped 47% during the third quarter of 2004, to $282.5 million from $191.9 million during the third-quarter 2003. Revenue increased 24% to $1.4 billion, which the company attributed to a 10.8% increase in capacity and an increase in cruise prices and onboard revenue.

 

RCCL OFFICIALS hinted during a conference call with analysts that Celebrity Cruises could see some new ship orders. Theres no question that Celebrity is starting to strengthen, said President Jack Williams. Were evaluating the next newbuild series for that brand. The line hasnt taken a new ship on since mid-2002 (minus the 100-passenger Xpedition vessel it operates in the Galapagos). The company doesnt break down specifics by brand, but Williams said Celebritys yield growth outperformed Royal Caribbeans for the second quarter in a row.

ROYAL CARIBBEAN INTERNATIONAL also:
" Lowered the entry-level age on its onboard kids programs from 3 years old to 6 months old and developed two new series of programs for the lines youngest passengers. The line created the daily, 45-minute parent-and-child playgroups for the infant-and-toddler set via a newly formed partnership with toy company Fisher-Price.
" Introduced a $3.95 surcharge to dine in the Johnny Rockets restaurants onboard its Voyager-class ships. The charge is in place on the Mariner of the Seas, the Navigator of the Seas and the Explorer of the Seas; the Adventure of the Seas implements the charge on Oct. 24, and the Voyager of the Seas does so on Nov. 6. A spokesman said the charge was to help manage guest volume.
" Opened an internal sales development desk to help agencies producing less than $20,000 in annual business and those not assigned to a sales reps. Agents can log onto www.cruisingpower.com to confirm they have access to the new sales desk.

NORWEGIAN CRUISE LINE will return to Europe in 2005,but only for two cruises. The Norwegian Jewel, which is under construction at the Bremerhaven, Germany-based Meyer Werft shipyard, will debut in August and offer two European sailings, a 13-day Mediterranean cruise and a 12-day Baltic program before heading to the U.S. on Sept. 4. The Jewel will have its inaugural ceremonies in New York and will sail a series of 11-day Canada and New England cruises before redeploying to Miami for alternating seven-day eastern and western Caribbean itineraries.

CARNIVAL CORP. will repurchase up to an initial $1 billion of Carnival Corp. and Carnival PLC shares and approve an increase in its quarterly dividend by 20%. The stock repurchase will start in 2005, Carnival said.

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