FUN is scaring my Mum

carnival_sunshine

My parents have just booked on Carnival Sunshine, formerly the Carnival Destiny, and when built the worlds largest cruise ship and the first passenger ship to exceed 100,000 GRT. The ship has had a significant refurbishment and will be cruising the Mediterranean.

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What Does 2012 Have In Store?


2012 is nearly upon us, so what do we have to look forward to in the next year. Well five new cruise ships will be joining the oceans, Norwegian Cruise Line will be listing on the stock market and Costa Romantica will emerge as Costa NeoRomantica, after a daring refurbishment. So heres our guesstimations for the next year:
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Guest Blog : Carnival Freedom

Mikey, of Mikeys Cruise Blog, has been kind enough to share his experiences on Carnival Freedom. We think this cruise sound great, Mikey sounds like he had a great time, so have a look ūüôā

Carnival Freedom was built in 2007, at a length on 290 meters carries 2974 passengers. As a member of the Conquest Class, Carnival Freedom has four other sister ships: Carnival Conquest, Carnival Valor, Carnival Glory and Carnival Liberty.

CHAPTER 1 – EMBARKATION

Embarkation started on Sunday, August 7, 2011 at 12:00. We arrived at the port around 1 and I quickly realized that we were docked at the (old and outdated) Princess Cruises terminal. After standing outside ¬†in the 90 degree heat for about 30 minutes we finally got through security, were pulled aside so my bag could be inspected (I was bringing some grape juice on board with me,) checked in, waited in line to get our room key’s pictures taken, walked up a gangway, and finally…I was on board. We soon departed and I even popped up to the top deck to give the Port Everglades Webcam a quick wave. I then started to unpack. We were in Cabin 1115 in a balcony cabin, the only way to cruise¬†comfortably. After our anytime time dinner, and I walk around the ship, I was tired from a long day of traveling, and went off to bed, to wake up the next morning in Key West.

ICE CREAM COUNT: ABOUT 4

CHAPTER 2 – KEY WEST

The Carnival Freedom docked in Key West early Monday morning, and as soon as it seems we got there, a large thunderstorm rolled in. Watching from my balcony, fellow guests started to run back to the ship. We eventually got off the ship after the rains had passed, and walked around Key West for awhile, browsing shops, looking at roosters, and soaking in the hot sun! We soon decided to return to the ship, and then went to lunch on Lido. Later that night after dinner, we went to the show, which that night was just two of the singers…singing. They were very good, but we ended up leaving half way through, because we got tired. I could have sworn that the one singer was Clay Aiken…looked exactly like him.

ICE CREAM COUNT: ABOUT 10 TOTAL

CHAPTER 3 – SEA DAY

I awoke later on Tuesday as it was our first sea day, and there really wasn’t much going on. After breakfast I decided to walk the entire ship in circles.
Literally, I walked from Deck 1 to Deck 11 in complete circles in under an hour. I later figured out that I walked about 2.8 miles. We tried to do some other activities later in the day, but we didn’t meet the 5 person minimum for the scavenger hunt, and we basically missed the other activity, which was a murder mystery game. So I went back to the room, and read my book for school on the balcony. You must be thinking, wow, your on a cruise, and you are just sitting on your balcony reading a book, well for some reason there were like no activities for anybody under the age of 18 that day, unless I wanted to go to a Tanzanite Seminar, which I chose not to. So off to dinner again with our amazing server, Charanet from Thailand, and then to bed. After just laying out in the sun all day, I was tired, and couldn’t wait for Grand Cayman!

ICE CREAM COUNT: ABOUT 14 TOTAL

CHAPTER 4 – GRAND CAYMAN part 1

So we pulled into Grand Cayman very early, and of course I didn’t wake up until around 9, so we had missed a chunk of time in Grand Cayman already. We soon disembarked the ship, and waited in a tender for about 10 minutes before it finally left the ship, and as¬†soon¬†as we got off the tender we went into the cruise terminal area. We had already decided before the cruise that Grand Cayman would be our beach day, so we then started to look for a tour that could take us to 7 Mile Beach. We eventually found one, and were hurried into a bus packed with other people. After about another 5 minutes of sitting there and some confusion between the bus driver, and the tour operator, we were off! We then later arrived at one of the public beaches along 7 Mile Beach, and journeyed down the shoreline to a more secluded area. We unpacked our things, and I was in the water within minutes. I have always loved Grand Cayman, and still do. This was my 3rd time being there, and I was so glad to be back in the warm, crystal clear water. There was even a coral reef like 10 feet from us where we could¬†snorkel! We just decided to do a beach in Grand Cayman, because we had already done the stingrays, and besides turtles and dolphins, there isn’t much else to do “water wise.” Unfortunately, our time had come to leave Grand Cayman, so we jumped back on a bus, and headed back to the port. We did walk around town for a minute, and eventually wandered back into the port area. We arrived just in time, because a humongous line was starting to form, and it was all for the Freedom, just the Freedom. We quickly jumped into line, and the line started to wrap around inside itself. We waited maybe a good 30-45 minutes in the blazing hot sun before we were able to get back on a tender. The line ended up being so long that the ship left the port about 30 minutes late, because so many people chose to get back on board like 30 minutes before the ship left. That would probably be the worst thing that could happen on a cruise, get left at a port where tendering is required. At least at a port with a dock you can try to chase down the ship, but at Grand Cayman that wasn’t going to happen.

CHAPTER 4 – GRAND CAYMAN part 2

About 2 hours after leaving Grand Cayman, the ship suddenly made a sharp right turn for about 5 minutes. I rushed onto the balcony to see what was going on, and noticed we had completely turned around. We turned on our stateroom TV, and noticed that we wer going 21knots (top speed) and were heading back towards Grand Cayman, my brother then called Guest Relations, and asked what was going on, we were told that there was a medical emergency, and we were heading back to Grand Cayman for a MedEvac. The next hour and a half went normal, and we were sitting at dinner, when the lights of Grand Cayman started to come into view. I left dinner momentarily to take some pictures, and a quick video. After we had finished dinner the ship started to pull back into the harbor of Grand Cayman. A tended boat was coming out to meet us, to evacuate the passenger who was ill. I was able to get a video of this unfolding, and even some video of the tender taking the man towards the sirens on the dock in Grand Cayman, which I will share below. The rest of the night went normal, they had a pretty good show that night, which was a show centered around jazz and swing. That was probably the worst of the 3 main shows, but it wasn’t horrible. I then went to bed later that night, and would soon be waking up in the one port that I had been looking forward to the most…Ocho Rios, Jamaica!

CHAPTER 5 – OCHO RIOS, JAMAICA

It was around 10:00 when I woke up, and we were just pulling into Ocho Rios and about to dock. Our arrival had been delayed from 8:00 to 10:30 after we had the medical evacuation on board the night earlier, but it didn’t matter because Carnival had called ahead to all of the shore excursion operators and explained the situation, and all of the tour except like 1 or 2 would still go on, and they would start as soon as the ship got there. I got up, and ran out of the room to grab some breakfast, because everybody was still either getting up, or sleeping. The lines were crazy when I got down there, so I ended up just getting some small things, but I gotta say I had probably the worst crescent roll I have ever had. We soon had all eaten breakfast, and we went down to the gangway to get off the ship. This was the day I had been looking for to all cruise. Today we had planned an excursion that would take us to climb Dunn’s River Falls, and then take us to Mystic Mountain where we would Bob Sled down the mountain side! I couldn’t wait! After about waiting around in the hot Jamaican sun for about 30 minutes we finally got onto a bus that would take us to Dunn’s River Falls. Our bus driver was funny and I was a bit scared because he was kind of¬†a crazy driver, but we finally got there, and that’s when were descended upon by a bunch of Jamaicans trying to sell us water. If you have been to Dunn’s you know exactly what I am talking about, and it gets worse later in this blog. After orientation we began to make our way to the falls. This ended up being almost an hour walk, after stopping multiple times for god knows what. We finally got to the entrance to the falls and we had to wait around for about another 30 minutes for him and the rest of our group, but we were soon on our way. We slowly climbed our way up the falls, with some cool surprises along the way, such as a natural water slide in the rocks, and even trust falls into a natural pool! We decided to take the hard way up, which was very challenging, but we made it! After we were done climbing, we started to make our way back to the bus, but because of the layout of the park, you have to go through…the market. As soon as we entered we were already being hovered around by 2 Jamaicans trying to sell us all of these things from their shops, and as we went along it started to feel like a haunted house, with people popping out at every corner telling you to buy things. We quickly made our way through and finally got to our bus, where we headed to Mystic Mountain for our Bob Sled adventure. When we got there, we headed for the chairlift that was to take us to the top of the mountain, and let me say, that was the longest, highest, scariest chairlift I have ever been on. As soon as we got to the top of the mountain, I bolted off that thing. After walking through the culture & history center, me breaking a magnet in the gift shop (oops ;),) and using the restrooms, we headed to the Bob Sleds. We got back on the ship like 30 minutes before it left, and went to lunch. The beautiful island of Jamaica was slowly fading away in the distance, and it started to dawn on me, that this was our last port, and tomorrow is our last day. I did my best to push this out of my mind, and I forgot this for a while. There was no show that night, so we ended up just strolling around the ship that night. I went to bed later that night, thinking of the great cruise I had so far, and was still thinking of the next great day that lay ahead of me.

CHAPTER 6 – FINAL SEA DAY

I made sure I was up extra early Friday morning, as it was the last day of our cruise. I was sad, but I wasn’t going to think about it. I went and got breakfast, which was pretty fast considering it was around 9am and only about half the ship was up. So I came back to the cabin and just ate breakfast on the balcony. The ocean was¬†beautiful, and it was going by so quickly. The rest of the day went by pretty slow, we looked through the gift shops for some souvenirs, and went back to the cabin. For some reason there were like no¬†activities¬†planned that day, it was all shopping sales, and casino games. We later ended up going to the pool and water¬†slide, and playing around there for a while. After that I embarked on a quest around the ship to find “the lucky coin.” There is a lucky coin placed somewhere on every Carnival ship right out in the open, so everyone can see it, but it is hidden, and one must find it to see it. Sadly, I never did find it. I walked the entire top 3 decks of the ship looking for it, which is where they placed them in the past. I never did find it, or even find a hint on the internet to where it might be. ūüė¶ Anyway, the day was starting to come to a close, and we went to dinner. Service was very slow that night, which I didn’t really care about since it gave me more time to be in the Chic Restaurant one last time. The waiters did the usual routine, singing the “You’re Leaving Our Fun Ship,” and then dinner continued. After dinner we went to the last show of the cruise, “Ticket to Ride.” The entire show was a tribute to the Beatles, and it was by far, the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship. You don’t even have to be a Beatles fan to like this show! The graphics and mini-shows were amazing! At one point the “Beatles” were running on stage, and jumped into the screen on stage, and become animated running around London! The best part was when some of the crew started hanging out glow sticks to everyone in the theater, and people were rocking out with these! It was a bunch of swaying glow sticks at Let it Be, and people using them as instruments to Obliddi Oblida. This was by far the best way to end one of my greatest cruises I have ever had! I went to bed later that night full of memories from that night, and all of the other nights before. This was definitely one of my best cruises ever, and I know that there are more to come.

Thanks Mikey for the great review, sounds like you had a great time on Carnival Freedom. I myself have never been on a Carnival Cruise and it is something I would like to experience, and I think Carnival Spirit when sailing out of Australia would be great!

If you want to see more from Mikey check his great blog – http://mikeyscruiseblog.com/
And dont forget to Like on Facebook & Follow on twitter!

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@Crociere.co.uk
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Improving Yield & Reducing Costs at Carnival

This blog is a long one, and based on what¬†I currently understand about Carnival Corporation¬†& PLC, as well as economic principles which I learnt in sixth form and at Maersk Line during yield management. There is no doubt flaws, but I’m a student, so tell me what you think.

Carnival is an amazingly successful business, which has delivered strong earnings and growth, however its internal set up confuses me as an outsider and I just feel that there is an easier way to do business. I have used the three main headings: Intergrate, Outsource, Internationalise.

Aim

The aim of this report is to suggest possible options on how to¬†improve clarity¬†in how¬†Carnival Corporation & PLC operates, as well as reduce costs and improve yield. Basically if I was Micky Arison I would do this…

Intergrate

As a legacy of being separate companies Carnival appears to operate semiautonomous divisions namely:
Holland America Line – Seabourn and Holland America
Princess Cruises – Princess Cruises
Costa Crociere РCosta Cruises, Aida Cruises, Ibero Cruises
Carnival UK РPrincess Cruises UK, Cunard, P&O Cruises, P&O Australia
Carnival Cruise Lines – Carnival Cruises

I would dissolve¬†all these separate divisions, instead splitting the company into managing its business in regions, with Carnival UK managing all Carnival¬†brands in the UK.¬†In Europe, Carnival¬†Europe (Costa Crociere) dealing with all Carnival brands in Europe and so on. I believe this is how Royal Caribbean operate, but again don’t know.

My example for Intergrate would be at Carnival UK were Holland America Line and Carnival Cruise Lines have separate offices from P&O, Princess and Cunard who are based in Southampton. HAL and CCL are based in London, surely there is enough space, perhaps by moving some desks round to combine the offices in Southampton, releasing expensive office space in London.

Another example being Holland America and Princess who are both on America’s east coast, I would combine the offices, there would be duplicated jobs which could be removed, HR, Payroll, Purchasing. I would also centralise many departments under the corporate banner.

As part of this integration I would effectively stop each brand being responsible for several functions they previously managed (as they had been centralised), there is a problem of the brands then slowly losing focus. But by creating Brand Ambassadors who would manage the marketing, and lobby the centralised functions for their brand could keep the distinct brand image. The brand ambassadors would be like a board of directors whose sole aim is to improve their brand.

Outsource

I’ve called this section ‘Outsource’ but it doesn’t necessarily relate to outsourcing. Firstly my example is that Maersk Line moved a significant amount of functions to Liverpool in order to move out of London, there was two reasons for this, the wages in Liverpool are lower than that of London, and there is also a large talent pool to choose from. Secondly office rental prices are MUCH lower in Liverpool, saving significant amounts of money.

In addition Maersk Line also outsourced functions which could be performed overseas in cheap countries to them countries, by implementing strong communications links between the offices, it became just as easy to speak to someone in India than someone across the office. Maersk also used Six Sigma to sort supply chain problems, but without working in the industry this would be impossible to consider applications for passenger shipping, but small changes in business operation yielded great results.

An example of outsourcing in the container shipping industry meant that online bookings which were previously completed by staff in the UK was transferred to lower cost countries, jobs which involve basic data entry made sense to move overseas as the internet has made such possible, easily.

I would pause from moving ‘contact centres’ overseas as people hate phoning overseas call centres and it can ruin a person’s opinion of a brand, which is what Carnival is building.

Internationalise

Carnival have previously commented that Cunard is their sole international brand, I believe Holland America and Seabourn both can be ‘internationalised’ under these new plans, which these larger possible audiences and the new corporate structure Carnival could charge higher prices, as the market for the product is larger, improving yield, also both of these fleet operate worldwide itineraries meaning there is no need for redeployment.

Why Holland America? – Well I believe there is no European equivalent to Holland America, and with an aging population in Europe I believe Holland America would make a great fit in the European market if more people where aware of the product. Its closest rival in my mind being Celebrity Cruises seem to be doing well in Europe naming Celebrity Silhouette in Hamburg earlier this year.

Why Seabourn? Again, Like Holland America I believe that Seabourn could, through bet promotion as part of the Carnival family improve sales in Europe, Asia and Australia. Its new ships providing a great opportunity to go worldwide.

The theory behind ‘Internationalise’ is that of Kraft’s purchase of Cadbury, which then allowed Kraft’s brand of chocolate ‘Milka’ to piggy back into news agents and supermarkets on the back of Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

Summary

I believe that Carnival is taking slow steps towards this model, as in the United Kingdom Carnival UK represents Princess Cruises, but this could just be a legacy of how the former P&O Princess used to operate. I expect Carnival already outsources a lot of functions already. 

I think the plan outlined above would work, and simplify the Carnival product line up, It would be great to hear from someone at Carnival on what they thought of my plans and suggestions.

Well I’m not sure how this one will go down, viewing figures for some blogs have confused me in the past week. The stuff i thought would be popular hasn’t been! (I’m not expecting this to be too popular) But Ship Visits always go down well!

Let me know what you think! Twitter, Facebook, Email & Comment. If you liked this Try: Cruise Line Brand Posistioning & Where Does Princess Fit?

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@Crociere.co.uk
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The Sepdecuplets : The 17 Ships of the Spirit & Vista Class

In 2000 Costa Atlantica debuted as the first of the Spirit Class. Built by Aker Yards the ship was not record-breaking in any way shape or form, or particularly innovative, but it did however allow for flexibility, being suitable to fit down the Panama canal and also had a significant amount of balconies.

The Vista Class, originally intended to be Holland America’s evolution of the Spirit Class, it soon became a standard across the Carnival Corporation & PLC¬†Fleet, almost by accident. Following the success of the QM2, one of the Holland America Vista’s was transferred to Cunard to become the Queen Victoria. However during building it was decided that the Queen Victoria should incorporate more concepts from the QM2, so the ship was transferred to P&O Cruises as Arcadia. During recent refits Holland America¬†& P&O Cruises¬†made changes to its Vista Class ships by adding more balconies at the back, to improve the revenue from this ships.

For Cunard a new extended Vista class ship was planned, slightly longer but still able to fit down the Panama Canal. The ship emerged as the new Queen Victoria in December 2007. In October 2007 a new Queen Elizabeth was ordered as an ‘improved’ version of Queen Victoria, showcasing a new Sports deck, which gives her a ‘crown’ like profile at the front.

Nieuw Amerstdam and Eurodam are classed as Signature class ships, however they are in effect a slight change in design from there Vista class comrades with an additional deck. Finally Costa decided that they should take the best of the Spirit class and Vista class to create two hybrid ships, known as Costa Luminosa & Costa Deliziosa

It is unlikely any more of these class of ships will be built, as new ‘safe return to port’ legislation by SOLAS may mean that they will not fit the criteria and higher standards now required from new builds.

There can be problems with having such a large class of ships from an economic perspective, the next major change in the cruise product could mean these vessel, all 17 of them will require the same changes. Like the ship classes of the 1990’s have required Balconies to be retrofitted, not always the best option.

Also as the ships appear across various market segments, there can be a problem that people think that the product is degraded from the Luxury end. A common problem which is mentioned amongst shipping enthusiasts regarding Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria, as nothing more than a more expensive Arcadia. However most people , once the hull is a different colour and a different funnel is used have no idea.

The onboard product of these ships varies differently, from the Las Vegas style of Carnival, to the Ocean Liner Art Deco styling of Cunard, its is unlikely people will realise they are sister ships at all. For those who are interested the 17 Ships are at the bottom of this article.

Have you cruised on the Vista class, do you agree with this concept of using the same ship across brands? Facebook, Twitter, Email and Comment!

Thanks,
Liam
Liam@crociere.co.uk
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(The Picture of the Golden Retriever is from our CruiseHound section Click Here to Visit!)

SHIPS:
1- Costa Atlantica – Spirit Class
2- Carnival Spirit РSpirit Class
3- Carnival Pride РSpirit Class
4- Carnival Legend РSpirit Class
5- Costa Mediterranea РSpirit Class
6- Carnival Miracle РSpirit Class
7- Zuideram – Vista Class
8- Oosterdam – Vista Class
9- Westerdam – Vista Class
10- Noordam – Vista Class
11- Arcadia  РVista Class
12- Queen Victoria – Enhanced Vista
13- Queen Elizabeth –¬†Enhanced Vista
14- Eurodam – Signature Class
15- Nieuw Amsterdam – Signature Class
16- Costa Lumiosa – Hybrid Spirit/Vista
17- Costa Deliziosa – Hybrid Spirit/Vista

Where does Princess Fit?

Now this make come across as a strange article, but Carnival Corporation & PLC has not developed how we expected. Following the merger of P&O Princess Plc and Carnival Corporation we expected Princess Cruises to be sold or dissolved into other brands.

This belief was held by a belief that Carnival, P&O, Holland America, Costa and Cunard all serve as viable alternatives to ‘the love boat’. Until recently the lack of a new design or strong promotion around new builds has made us believe that perhaps Princess might be sold to a Private Equity Group a la Norwegian Cruise Line.

However the recent committment of the ‘new’ Royal Princess and the yet un-named sister has made us believe that perhaps Carnival will continue with the brand. Our expectations of what would have happened if Princess was dissolved would be:

Ocean & Pacific Princess РTo Seabourn
Coral & Island Princess – To Cunard
Sun, Sea & Dawn Princess – To Holland America Line
Golden & Star Princess РTo Aida
Grand, Ruby, Caribbean & Crown Princess РTo P&O Cruises
Diamond & Sapphire Princess РTo P&O Australia
Emereld Princess РTo Ibero Cruises

While this may seem a strange strategy¬†we just don’t feel that Princess has a strong brand. All of the ships being appropriately refitted for the new respective fleets would mean that all of them had strong selling points, but too¬†us Princess is just a cruise line.

But if Princess was sold, who would buy it?
Royal Caribbean – No, I don’t think they would, Princess is too close a brand to Celebrity & Royal Caribbean, however this would be a once in a lifetime purchase so could be expected. Somewhere¬†we believe that Princess is a close competitor of Celebrity Cruises, but Celebrity’s new Solstice class ships have put them in a different league
MSC РMaybe, they are quickly growing their cruise operations, Princess would provide a great leap into the American market.
NCL РAgain maybe, as a more traditional and premium brand compared to NCL.

Carnival is all for ‘fun’ with their famous ‘fun ships’, Cunard is ocean liners and a bygone world, Norwegian is the freestyle cruise line to what you want when you want. Royal Caribbean is the ‘wow…this thing floats’ cruise line, MSC is the italian cruise line. But what is Princess? We’re not sure, it is no longer the love boat. While under the P&O Group umbrella they were known for innovation, with Grand Princess having an amazing amount of balconies when Carnival were still building the fascination class (with very few balconies!) Grand Princess also had the famous ‘Skywalkers’ giving the ship a profile similar to that of a shopping trolley, revolutionary at the time. We also believe it was Princess who first introduced movies & TV’s on cruise ships pool areas. Where has the inventive streak gone? Royal Caribbean perhaps?

As part of P&O Princess Cruises Plc, Princess played the part of the mass market American cruise line, with P&O as the British, Ocean Village as the British Family, Aida as the German, P&O Australia as the Australian and Swan Hellenic as the Discovery/Adventure. At this time I believe Princess was a competitor of Holland America, essentially serving the same market, Alaska.

 But in the present day Carnival Corporation & PLC, We wonder where Princess fits in the overall strategy. Our guess would be that by disposing of Princess, Carnival would lose market share. With so many brands in Carnival stable it is not hard to wonder how one might lose its image, with Holland America and Princess in the same ownership has Princess lost its touch?

However all of the above is obviously just nonsense as they have just ordered the new Royal Princess, We would like Princess to develop for what we feel it should be, Princess should be World Cruises, Alaska, Northern Europe, Australia and Japan. Princess recently appointed a UK director Paul Ludlow will hopefully meant that Princess image confusion is being worked on. Otherwise¬†I fear the ‘escape completely’ slogan may prove to be true for this line!

What do you think about Princess Cruises? Have you cruised with them? Where do you think they stand in the market? Email us, Comment, Twitter & Facebook!

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Liam@crociere.co.uk
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