Onsite: New Beginnings at Carnival

AT SEA--Gerry Cahill, who previously served as Carnival Corp.'s CFO, is set to fill the shoes of outgoing Carnival CEO Bob Dickinson, and he is the first to admit he is still picking up the nuances of the job, but all mentions from those working for him are overwhelmingly positive. Cahill and fellow Carnival executives addressed travel agents on Carnival Freedom only days after the ship's return from its inaugural European season. In front of more than 400 agents from around the world, Cahill sang the praises of his predecessor, and sincerely wished that when it was his time to retire he could do it with the same class as Dickinson.

Sentiment aside, Cahill--a tireless worker in his own right--seems to be getting up to speed on the business at hand. With the majority of Carnival's fleet in the Caribbean, knowing the region is paramount. For the good part of the year, pricing concerns and shrinking demand dogged the Caribbean, which has now subsided, according to Cahill.

"The pricing pressure seems to have turned," Cahill noted during a Carnival executive Q&A session. "The increase in demand is continuing and we are very positive."

One development aiding Carnival, Cahill said, is other cruise lines' redeployment of their ships out of the Caribbean to what they believe are more lucrative regions, such as Europe. It's giving Carnival a bigger chunk of the Caribbean market. "That's the opportunity for us and our 18 ships here," he said. "The key is to create more exciting itineraries." Cahill lists Half Moon Cay and Grand Turk as two such destinations. He also cites Carnival Destiny's route that starts in March, which will make six calls in one week, several of them at less-visited ports.

In addition, we are told that next year Carnival will again dock at Cozumel's Porta Maya pier (Cozumel has two ports), which has been rebuilt after it was devastated by Hurricane Wilma. Of the two piers, Porta Maya was superior due to its shopping and restaurant choices, and the newly constructed facility is promised to be just as good. (DE)

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