Carnival Corp. CEO Arnold Donald Updates U.S. and U.K. Reporters

Carnival Cruise Lines has achieved a 75 percent brand reputation recovery since the Carnival Triumph incident of last year, Arnold Donald, CEO of parent company, Carnival Corp., told U.S. and U.K. reporters on Friday. During a telephone media briefing Friday morning, Donald added that the recovery level might even be a bit higher.

Donald said the process to recover from such a negative situation often takes two to three years, so he said the line is moving along well in that regard.

He also praised travel agents for their role, and cited the line's Carnival Conversations program as well as Carnival's fall television advertising program as helping to drive the recovery. He said additional television advertising will occur during network programming for next month's 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.

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Given the rapid growth of consumer demand for river cruising, TravelAgentCentral.com asked Donald if Carnival Corp. would be interested in owning and operating a river line in the future. Donald said he couldn't envision the line doing so given the small berth capacity of river vessels. In other words, the company wouldn't put investment in such a small pool of berths, when it can earn far more with larger vessels.

That said, Princess Cruises, a Carnival Corp. brand, has previously partnered with Avalon Waterways on ocean-river itineraries, so would the company consider having a Carnival Corp. river brand partnership with an existing river line? Arnold didn't commit but said: "You never say never."

As for brand management, Donald said the individual cruise line brands will continue to operate independently, but that the new corporate structure announced in late 2013 will allow the world's largest cruise company's brands to work better together and to leverage the company's influence in the marketplace.

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He also talked about the new ships planned for 2014 -- Costa Diadema and Regal Princess -- as well as Seabourn Cruise Line's newest order for a new 604-passenger luxury ship, its largest ever. Would the line ever consider an even bigger Seabourn ship?

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While the new ship ordered is slightly larger than Seabourn's Odyssey-class vessels, which enhances operational efficiencies, Donald said he wouldn't expect the line to ever go much higher in berth count for an order. Otherwise, he noted, the size begins to effect product delivery and customer brand expectations.

"We enjoy our position in the luxury market," he said, adding that Seabourn is a profitable brand.

(Pictured: Arnold Donald, CEO, Carnival Corp.)

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