n undercover Travel Weekly reporting
team has finally laid its hands on a copy of the secret handbook of
the American Cruise Executives Society, or ACES. It confirms what
we have long suspected: It is a condition of membership that no
member of ACES is allowed to utter the word "overcapacity."
The penalties are severe. They take away your captain's cap and
nautical dictionary (so you can't look up words like "athwart") and
they make you pick up your own bar tabs. Also, you're forbidden to
use the secret handshake.
In fact, the secret handbook makes clear that, to members of
ACES, "overcapacity" does not exist and cannot possibly exist
because cruising is so good that the demand for it is unlimited.
Since demand is infinite, the supply can never exceed the demand
and "overcapacity" is therefore a contradiction in terms, an
oxymoron like "military intelligence," "jumbo shrimp" or "airline
So we breathed a sigh of relief for Carnival Corp. chairman
Micky Arison when he said in the company's latest earnings report
that booking levels are "not commensurate with the increase in
capacity expected for the second half of the year." That was a
close call: He almost said the "O" word.
Arison flirted with disaster again last week when explaining the
company's decision to cancel an order for a new Holland America
ship and to delay the delivery dates of three ships due to arrive
in 2004 and beyond. He actually used phrases like "rational growth
rate" and "rational and efficient timetable to absorb additional
Our antennae also went up when Andy Stuart, NCL's senior vice
president for sales and marketing, said at the CruiseTour World
show in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., that "I don't see an increase in
capacity as a problem. I see an opportunity." Another close
Since they didn't actually say the "O" word, their memberships
in ACES are presumably secure. But it's breathtaking, nevertheless,
to watch our industry leaders living so dangerously close to the
• • •
On the house?
omes now Continental Airlines
with the latest airline money-making scheme: a $10 service fee for
using a city ticket office. American started a similar $5 fee last
year and it has taken this long for Continental to go into lemming
We don't know what to make of this, but it seems a little
strange for a business establishment to charge its customers a fee
for taking the trouble of getting dressed and walking in the front
door. Call it a brick-and-mortar penalty.
We asked a travel agent friend if she charged extra for walk-ins
and she said no. In fact, they get cookies and juice. On the