NOW WHAT? P&O Princess shareholders' decision
to adjourn their meeting early Friday morning and delay a vote on
merging with Royal Caribbean Cruises appears to have left a
"delighted" Carnival Corp. holding the trump card. "We are
committed to giving P&O Princess shareholders the opportunity
to accept our increased offer, and we will focus all our efforts on
securing regulatory clearance," CEO Micky Arison said. Royal
Caribbean chief Richard Fain, on the other hand, said the company
would consult with its advisor to determine the implication of the
adjournment and its impact on the proposed merger with P&O
Princess. After a marathon vote-counting session that started
Thursday, the tally showed 62.5% of voting shares favored
ALTHOUGH FAIN had said there would be "no
deals" if the meeting was adjourned and had hinted RCCL would walk
away from the table, analysts said that move was unlikely. "If they
walk, they trigger this [$62.5 million] breakup fee," said Felicia
Kantor, an analyst at Lehman Bros. "The only way to court Princess
shareholders is to sweeten the bid, and Royal Caribbean isn't in
the financial position to do that." Jim Winchester, an analyst for
Lazard Freres, said Royal Caribbean could make itself more
attractive by offering P&O Princess shareholders a higher
percentage of the combined company. But analysts agreed that
obtaining regulatory approval is the next hurdle for both suitors,
and Winchester said doing so rests on how regulators view the
cruise industry: as part of a larger leisure market or as a
self-contained unit. How long before the next mega-merger meeting?
"We're researching that now," Winchester said.
TENDERING PROBLEMS in Hawaii prompted Norwegian
Cruise Line to change its program for the new Norwegian Star again.
The line is dropping Maui as an embarkation point beginning Aug. 16
because the tendering service there is cumbersome. Until then,
guests can begin their seven-day cruises Sundays in Honolulu or
Fridays in Maui. A spokeswoman said that shore tenders in Hawaii
are simply "not adequate," and NCL is building its own tenders for
the Star that should be ready in April.
THIS COMES AFTER NCL switched Star's Maui call
from Lahaina to Kahului through May 3. NCL president Colin Veitch
cited a lack of sufficient shore tendering in Lahaina as the reason
for the move. In late January, NCL changed one Star's port call
Kona to Hilo through March 31 because of, what else, tendering
difficulties in inclement weather.
THE WORLD OF RESIDENSEA will be christened in
New York April 19, and the vessel will depart on its maiden voyage
from Oslo March 7, not Feb. 24 as originally scheduled. Officials
said more time was needed to complete work on the floating
ARUBA ARRIVALS: The island welcomed 298 cruise
ships carrying 487,296 passengers last year, according to the Aruba
Cruise Tourism Authority. The passenger count was down 0.5% from
2000. Projections for this year envision 308 ship calls.
ALTHOUGH CARNIVAL CORP.'S Wave period prices
remain below last year's levels, the company said bookings during
the first five weeks of 2002 increased 8% over the same period last
year. The company said net yields for the first quarter will be
down approximately 8%, revising the company's earlier prediction of
a 10% to 15% decrease. Another good sign: Carnival said pricing in
recent weeks has been "almost equal" to last year's levels.