By Tom Stieghorst
Carnival Corp.’s fleet carried at least 25%
more first-time cruisers last year than it did
in 2013, the company’s chief financial officer, David Bernstein, told analysts last week.
Bernstein made the disclosure as Carnival reported that second-quarter net income had more than doubled, to $222 million from $98 million a year earlier.
Revenue declined slightly, to $3.59 billion
from $3.63 billion.
In a conference call with analysts, Bernstein said Carnival Corp.’s brands carried
3. 4 million first-time cruisers last year, up
from 2. 7 million or 2.8 million the year before.
In all, Carnival’s nine brands attract
about 10 million guests annually.
Bernstein said first-time
cruisers were up “dramatically” last year and
attributed the jump to several factors.
First, the number includes the fledgling
China market, where nearly all the guests
are first-time cruisers. Carnival ships will
provide about 4 million cruise days in
China in 2016, about 5% of the company’s
A second factor was the crush of capacity industrywide in the Caribbean region in
2014. Bernstein said that the only way to fill
all the ships was to target more first-time
Plus, in general, there were
a number of value-add initiatives by Carnival brands and
competitors that appealed to first-time
guests, Bernstein said.
“We think all of that collectively contributes to what you saw in terms of the increase in first-time cruisers last year versus
the previous year,” Bernstein said.
A factor that went unmentioned by Bern-
stein in the call was flagship Carnival Cruise
Line’s continued recovery from the 2012
Carnival Triumph fire, which presumably
would have had a bigger impact on poten-
tial first-time cruisers than on repeater cus-
Bernstein did not give a breakdown by
brand of the improvement in first-time
Carnival Cruise Line, in particular, has
made a point of recruiting passengers who
have never cruised before as it seeks to
generate demand to fill ships and raise its
Part of the strategy behind the Fathom
social-impact brand announced earlier
this month was to offer something that
has a different appeal for consumers who
wouldn’t otherwise cruise.
Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said the
company was also spending more money
on advertising this year to stimulate conversation about cruising, which he said
would eventually boost demand and give
Carnival investors double-digit returns on
Donald said that Fathom, the company’s
$5 million Super Bowl ad in February and
the recent celebration of Cunard Line’s
175th anniversary were all examples of
sparking the conversation.
“One of every two people who cruise in
the world cruise with us, and anything that
generates interest in cruising automatically
helps us,” Donald said.
Bernstein said the increase amounts to
a few percentage points on Carnival’s $600
million annual marketing spend.
Asked about development in Asia,
Bernstein said there had been no impact
to Carnival from the river cruise sinking
in China earlier in the month or from the
Middle East respiratory syndrome outbreak in Korea, although he said Carnival
brands did modify some itineraries at the
request of Chinese charter operators.
Carnival reports surge in net income from first-time cruisers
8 JUNE 29, 2015 WWW.TRAVELWEEKLY.COM
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The Fathom Adonia. Carnival’s
new social-impact brand was
announced earlier this month.