MIAMI -- Cruise executives at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping
Convention here said discounting has helped the cruise market
bounce back after Sept. 11, but over the long-term, the industry's
growth will be fueled by consolidation.
"When you got prices down to $399, people overcame their fears.
They drove, they walked, they pogo-sticked to get there," said
Carnival Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson.
He added that the temporary drop in yield was worth the
"It's well-reported the hotel industry was very leery of taking
prices down and affecting their yields. It's imperative from a
marketing standpoint to fill every berth, to get people on a
cruise, because we know once they try it, they'll come back."
Also contributing to a decline in yield was the redeployment of
ships from Europe to markets like the Caribbean, which had a
"significant impact," said Royal Caribbean president Jack
"We look forward to building our European product back in 2003,"
But the cruise lines' strategies apparently worked. Norwegian
Cruise Lines president and chief executive Colin Veitch said,
"Recovery has been much faster than most of us, perhaps all of us,
would have expected in September or October."
The three executives were among six cruise heavyweights
participating in the convention's annual state of the industry
Because several of the cruise chiefs were directly involved in
the P&O Princess merger/takeover battle, talk quickly turned
Howard Frank, vice chairman of Carnival Corp., said industry
consolidation gives cruise lines access to more capital, which is
needed to grow and expand the product, and provides economies of
scale that keep costs lower.
"I don't think the industry would have grown without
consolidation," he said.
P&O Princess chief executive Peter Ratcliffe and Royal
Caribbean's Jack Williams reaffirmed their commitment to merge.
Frank, whose company is a rival suitor for P&O Princess,
played down the sometimes acrimonious nature of the takeover
"This [merger] is kind of a moment-in-time situation that I
think will fade quickly," he said. "Even during this period of
time, I see us working together closely on common industry
NCL's Veitch rebuffed a suggestion that his line was considering
partnering with the company that loses the merger battle for
Dickinson pushes rivals to reveal direct
By Rebecca Tobin
MIAMI -- Carnival Cruise Lines president Bob Dickinson
challenged cruise executives at the Seatrade Cruise Shipping
Convention here to disclose the percentage of direct bookings they
At Carnival, Dickinson said 8% of the bookings are direct.
Other cruise lines then chimed in: Princess Cruises has about
5%, Royal Caribbean has about 4% and Crystal Cruises is between 1%
Following the debate, Norwegian Cruise Lines representatives
said NCL's direct booking percentage is 5%, revising a 9% figure
originally given by chief executive Colin Veitch.
Dickinson said, "I think everyone would agree we love the travel
agent," but he added that direct bookings are a necessity because
cruise lines compete with land-based resorts and hotels, all of
which have direct-booking outlets.
"Carnival is honest, and we say we have initiatives toward
direct booking," he said.