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 month.
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.
Excitement mounted when
A flick of a switch sent the champagne bottle hurling toward
the ship until it met its end with glass spraying and
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