Following on from the reports that Carnival Cruise Line will not be operating sailings from Europe and the UK next year, the US-based cruise giant’s Chief Executive Officer Gerry Cahill has declared the retreat temporary and that he’s hopeful that some of the line’s vessels could return in 2015.
Cahill stated: “I’m optimistic it will be a year, but I can’t guarantee it.”
Referring to the high cost of airfares from the US to Europe, the CEO went on to explain: “Carnival caters best for Middle America, so when airfares get this expensive, those families are not going to be able to justify a trip to Europe. Ninety per cent of our guests on European ships are from the US.”
Outgoing UK Managing Director for Carnival, Adolfo Perez said: “We have grown the market, but we are newbies in the UK and we could not make up the difference in US guests. The UK is very competitive price-wise. A lot of people tried competitive pricing, but when the airfare costs more than the cost of a cruise it just doesn’t work.”
The May announcement of the withdrawal was somewhat surprising, considering the line’s investment in the UK and European market which involved the appointment of a managing director and its first TV advert campaign at the start of the year.
The line clearly believes that, at least for the time being, its money is better spent on revamping some of the older ships in its 24-strong fleet, with the 18-year-old Carnival Destiny undergoing a $155 million makeover to turn it into the Carnival Sunshine and its ongoing 2.0 enhancement programme. Cahill expressed an interest in revamping the line’s older Fantasy Class ships, but stressed that Carnival had no plans to do this at the moment.
By Simon Brotherton