CRUISE EXECUTIVES were not apologizing for low
prices, saying the discounting will help fill this year's new
capacity while introducing more cruisers to the product. During a
State of the Industry debate at the annual Seatrade Cruise Shipping
Convention held in Miami Beach March 3 to 6, some panelists said
they were disappointed by this year's Wave season, but Carnival
Corp. chairman Howard Frank said lines can remain profitable when
margins are reduced by low cruise prices, "even through difficult
times." Bob Dickinson, however, rejected the notion that the cruise
industry had done a good job of conveying its value. "Yes, we're
able to get people on the ship, but we're giving away a phenomenal
product at ridiculously low prices," he said.
IN OTHER SEATRADE NEWS:
• Gregg Michel, president of Crystal Cruises, said the line is
looking at shorter cruises and roundtrip options from domestic
ports in 2004. Crystal will take on a capacity increase of more
than 50% in July when it introduces the Crystal Serenity. The line
also said no-charge soft drinks, water, coffee and all other
alcohol-free beverages will be introduced on Alaska sailings of the
• The current state of capacity and geopolitical events can be
rolled up into two words, said SeaDream Yacht Club's CEO Larry
Pimentel: "Rough times." Small cruise lines will to fall into the
hands of "entrepreneurs," he said. And agents will continue to be
"important -- but not exclusive" to booking methods.
• Cruise Lines Int'l Assn. said a record 7.6 million North American
cruisers sailed in 2002. This year, with capacity growth the
business is poised to take on 8.3 million North Americans and 9.6
million cruise passengers worldwide.
• The pace of new building will slow considerably after the next
two years, executives said. "Maybe we won't need ships in 2005 in
the same numbers," Norwegian Cruise Line CEO Colin Veitch said.
"But we will need new ships."
• Cunard Line will float out the partially completed Queen Mary 2
next weekend. President Pamela Conover said a quality control team
spotted some flaws in the ship's new Mermaid propulsion pods; the
pods were sent back to the manufacturer and the line does not
expect the ship's delivery date (January 2004) to be affected.
• Meanwhile, NCL discussed its new position as the only cruise line
to be able to offer interisland Hawaii service. NCL hopes to reflag
a second ship for that market 10 to 12 months after its first
Project America ship hits Hawaiian waters in mid-2004. "We have the
ambition to be known as a Hawaii specialist," Veitch said.
Meanwhile, NCL will add a new U.S. port to its lineup in 2004,
Veitch said. No word on which city that will be, although he said:
"It might not be on the East Coast."
CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES shifted its 110,000-ton
ship, the Carnival Conquest from New Orleans to Gulfport, Miss.,
for at least six weeks, because rising river levels made it unsafe
to navigate the 210-foot tall ship beneath low-hanging power lines
strung over the river. In December, Entergy officials proposed
burying the lines underground, a process that was expected to take
more than 18 months to complete. For now, Gulfport is about an
hour-and-15-minute drive from New Orleans.
PHIL KLEWENO resigned as president of Princess
Cruises. He had been with the company since June 2001. A statement
from Peter Ratcliffe, chief executive of parent company P&O
Princess, said: "Phil's leadership has been invaluable in keeping
our organization focused ... during the merger activities."
WINDSTAR unveiled a 2004 cruise schedule that
includes expanded options in Tahiti and a dedicated homeport in St.
Thomas for the Wind Surf's 16 Caribbean voyages. The Wind Star,
which is offering Tahitian Island cruises, will sail two roundtrip
14-day cruises from Tahiti to the Marquesas Islands, the Tuamotu
and the islands of Bora Bora and Moorea. The former Wind Song,
which cruised in Tahiti, suffered a fire last year and was sunk in
French Polynesian waters in January.
SILVERSEA CRUISES will remove the Silver Cloud
from service for six months beginning in October for a "major
refurbishment" -- one similar to the treatment given the Silver
Wind, which will return to the seas in May. The line also expanded
its Silver Sailings program, which offers a discount of up to 50%
on some cruises. The program, which originally promoted 30
applicable voyages this year, was broadened to include nearly 60
PRINCESS rolled out a new promotion with
Galileo in which travel agents who book Princess voyages using
Galileo's e-Cruise or LeisureShopper to make a booking will receive
a 1% bonus override commission. If clients use a MasterCard to pay
for any cruise vacation of $3,000 or more, the passenger will
receive a $50 MasterCard gift card.