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Carnival Debuts Freedom, Quashes Rumors of More SalesMarch 12, 2007 By: David Eisen Travel Agent
VENICE—Carnival Corporation is making it clear: It is in the business of growing brands, not being their caretakers. Such was Carnival Corp.'s CEO Mickey Arison's sentiment a day before the naming of Carnival Cruise Lines' newest ship, Carnival Freedom, in Venice last week.
Carnival previously divested its Swan Hellenic and Windstar
arms, but Arison made assurances that another brand dump was not on the
horizon. Rumors of a Seabourn sale were quickly quashed. "We expect big
things from Seabourn," a soft-spoken Arison said.
Arison also raised concerns over ship sizes, remarking that
very large cruise ships may lose the essence of the true cruise experience.
"We're comfortable with our size of ships," Arison said. Bob
Dickinson, Carnival's president and CEO, was more blunt. "We're not in an
arms race," he said.
Working With Agents
Travel agents remain the biggest and clearest channel of
booking for Carnival. Arison did state that a record 200-plus online bookings
were made on the Carnival web site in one day recently, but noted that most
travelers still use the Internet primarily for education, not booking.
Vicki Freed, Carnival Cruise Lines' senior vice president of
sales and marketing, said agents—especially those who are home-based—should
push the "value proposition" of a cruise and use Carnival's business
development managers during sales calls. "Travel agents need to raise
their hands," said Freed, who is unveiling her own blog by the end of this
Meanwhile, an uncooperative fuse was fixed at the Carnival
Freedom's naming ceremony, but the electrical snafu wasn't enough to
prevent supermodel Kathy Ireland from christening the line's latest
110,000-ton, 2,974-stateroom addition to its fleet, albeit about an hour late.
ladled praise on the ship's builder, Fincantieri shipyard, for the "high
quality standards of today's Carnival." Carnival Freedom is the
eighth ship built by Fincantieri and the shipyard has contracts on three more
Carnival ships, Splendor, Dream and Magic. "It's safe
to say we like their work," affirmed
Excitement mounted when
present-day entrepreneur, took the stage to preside over the ship's naming as
its godmother. She gushed over the ship, alluding to it as a paragon of family
vacations. "My heart will always cherish this ship and everyone who
experiences her will always be in my prayers," she said. Things were
lighter earlier in the day. "I can't wait 'til the twister water slide
opens tomorrow," she remarked with anticipation.
A flick of a switch sent the champagne bottle hurling toward
the ship until it met its end with glass spraying and
exterior on its way to mingle with the
Carnival Freedom was born.
Guests in the Victoriana Show Lounge then took in Carnival
Freedom's show, Ticket to Ride, a fast-paced musical mélange of
Beatles hits featuring impersonators of The Fab Four and a cast of others. The
show is one of three featured on the ship's 12-day
and Greek isles itineraries. It will be joined by a New Orleans-themed
production called Big Easy and a 1940s swing show, Jump, Jive and