Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review: Carnival

Cruise Ships 2011, The Year In Review,

The First In Series Of Posts by Shawn J. Dake

The cruise industry continued its never-ending story of growth in 2011, carrying a projected 16 million passengers, up 6.6% over the previous year.  Despite so many ships now sailing in other waters, 73% of all passengers still come from North America. 

River cruising, especially in Europe, is also on the rise but does not come under the purview of this column, which focuses almost exclusively on ocean-going cruises. 

Seven new ships were introduced in 2011. The next generation of vessels now on order will feel considerably more crowded than existing cruise ships.  The new ships coming online between 2013 and 2015 for Norwegian Cruise Lines and Royal Caribbean will have 8% less space per passenger while the latest Princess orders will be 16.5% more congested than even their very largest existing ships such as the SAPPHIRE PRINCESS.  

In this annual review, cruise line listings are grouped below their parent company, such as Carnival Corporation, Royal Caribbean International, and Apollo Management, followed by independent and smaller operators.

CARNIVAL MAGIC. Photo © Peter Knego 2011

Carnival Cruise Lines continued to do well in 2011.  In announcing the doubling of the quarterly dividend to shareholders, chairman and CEO, Micky Arison said, “Given our projected increase in cash from operations, expected to exceed $4 billion in 2011, combined with lower capital investment commitments due to the slower pace of our new build program, the company will begin generating significant free cash flow in 2011 and beyond.”  Financial results for the full year totaled $15.8 billion in revenue.  Reported net income for 2011 was a very respectable $1.9 billion.  Carnival Corporation purchased 14.8 million of their own shares on the open market at a cost of $455 million.  For the future, Carnival Corporation expects to build two to three new ships each year with a 2012 capital investment commitment of $2.6 billion. 

The 23rd ship in the current Carnival Cruise Lines fleet was named CARNIVAL MAGIC in a May 1st ceremony in Venice, Italy.  Lindsey Wilkerson, a former cancer patient and current employee of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis served as godmother.  She and 3,700 other guests then departed on a nine-day maiden voyage to the Mediterranean. 

The delivery of the CARNIVAL MAGIC marked another milestone, as the 100th ship in the combined fleets of Carnival Corporation.  The next 130,000 ton sister, CARNIVAL BREEZE was launched at Fincantieri on September 16th. 

Carnival, like other companies, is busy rethinking if they want to continue to offer cruises to the Mexican Riviera from the West Coast. San Diego, California, in particular, has been hit heavily by defections. 

Following a fire in November 2010, the 113,300 gross ton CARNIVAL SPLENDOR remained out of service until February 20th.  After temporary repairs in San Diego, the ship proceeded up the coast to San Francisco at about one knot.  The ship was too tall to reach the nearby shipyard in San Diego, as it could not pass under the Coronado Bridge, so BAE in San Francisco was the next closest alternative.  Carnival President and CEO Gerry Cahill stated,  “Between the repairs, the transport, refunds and free cruises given to displaced passengers and the lost revenue from canceled sailings, the incident cost $65 million.”  Repairs included building and replacing a 218,000 pound generator, flown in from Europe, along with two 106,000 pound alternators and 110 miles of electrical cables.  The fire destroyed the 5 diesel generator in the aft engine room but the intense heat also burned the cable insulation disabling both engine rooms and leaving the ship powerless. 

On a more positive note, CARNIVAL SPLENDOR received its fifth perfect 100 score on the September U.S. Public Health Service Inspection. 

In Long Beach, California, CARNIVAL PARADISE (ex PARADISE) spent most of 2011 on the vessel’s normal 3 and 4-day itineraries to Baja before being replaced by CARNIVAL INSPIRATION (ex INSPIRATION) on December 19th. 

Carnival announced that their other West Coast based ship, CARNIVAL SPIRIT, would be abandoning the region in October 2012 for more lucrative deployment in Australia.  This marks the first time a Carnival Cruise Lines vessel has ventured “down under”, although several of their other brands base ships there on a regular basis.  The ship will cater to Australian passengers rather than their usual American base, with Australian dollars used on board and a no-tipping required policy in effect. 

Although the CARNIVAL ELATION (ex ELATION) had been sailing full from its base in Mobile, Alabama, Carnival decided they were not making enough money there and discontinued service from that port, switching the ship on October 22nd to New Orleans. 

CARNIVAL PRIDE was blown away from its berth in Port Canaveral, Florida, March 30th by an 85 knot gust of wind.  No one was injured in the frightening incident, however when the anchor was dropped abruptly to help stay the ship, it broke the raising mechanism.  The vessel remained overnight for repairs, canceling a scheduled call at Nassau.  Passengers were compensated $25.00 in on board credit.

Carnival Funnels. photo © Shawn J. Dake 2009.

Next up: Cunard Line

Shawn Dake

Shawn Dake

Shawn J. Dake, freelance travel writer and regular contributor to MaritimeMatters, worked in tourism and cruise industry for over 35 years.  A native of Southern California, his first job was as a tour guide aboard the Queen Mary.  A frequent lecturer on ship-related topics he has appeared on TV programs.  Owner of Oceans Away Cruises & Travel agency, he served as President of the local Chapter of Steamship Historical Society of America.  With a love of the sea, he is a veteran of 115 cruises.
Shawn Dake
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