Onboard the new Carnival Splendor on Saturday, Micky Arison, Carnival Corp. chairman, told reporters in a press briefing that the environment for any potential new ship orders remains "very difficult." Arison noted that Carnival Corp. hasn't ordered a ship for any of its North American brands in more than a year. While collectively those brands will take delivery of four to five new ships a year between now and 2010-2011, beyond that Arison sees a potential slowdown in capacity growth if worldwide economic conditions and currency exchange rates remain as they are today. While the Carnival Corp. brands will continue to talk with shipyards and vendors, "we have to get a return better than the cost of capital" when ordering any new ships, Arison said.
While consumers typically love Carnival's two-seat dining process and their personal relationship with their waiter, Carnival's president Gerry Cahill acknowledged that some consumers may prefer open seating. So Cahill said that, for the past three weeks, the contemporary line has begun trying the open seating concept on Carnival Legend, which sails from Tampa.
The upper seating area of the Carnival Legend is open seating, the lower is for traditional fixed seating. He also said the line will soon implement the program for testing on Carnival Liberty. Cahill said the biggest challenge is how to incorporate entertainment into the dining schedule. Carnival's waiters normally dance in the dining room between the end of the main course and dessert, but it's a bit tough when people enter and leave at different times.