But experts predict Carnival will be forced to make a sea change
in its marketing. "Carnival has no choice," said Bob Levinstein,
CEO of online cruise-travel agency Cruise Competes. "It definitely
has to review its marketing plan."
Reached last week hours before the stricken ship reached port,
Carnival spokeswoman Joyce Oliva said there were no immediate plans
to reassure customers about Carnival in advertising. "Right now,
that is not our concern or is something on our radar," Ms. Oliva
said. "I can't tell you "Yes, we're going to do this, or no, we're
going to do that.'"
According to the American Association of Port Authorities, the
cruise industry is a $38 billion business in the U.S., and has
grown an average of 7.2% a year since 1980, according to the Cruise
Lines Industry Association. The number of cruise-ship passengers
increased to 17.2 million last year from 14.8 million in 2010.
Carnival owns most of that business with a 21.2% market share
for the Carnival brand and a 48.4% share overall including
Carnival-owned lines such as Princess, Costa, Holland America,
P&O, Cunard and Seabourn, according to website Cruise Market
Watch. Royal Caribbean has a 23.3% share, 16.4% of it from the
flagship brand. Norwegian Cruise Lines holds a 7.6% share.
Cruising is a volume play. According to Cruise Market Watch, the
average passenger spends $1,728 for a weeklong trip, including
ticket, onboard expenses, shore excursions and gambling. But the
cruise line spends an average of $1,543 per passenger during that
same time period, including fuel, operating costs, payroll, food
and more. That's only a $185 profit per passenger on a seven-day
Will Carnival's issues with the Triumph be a boon for Royal
Caribbean or Norwegian? It's hard to tell. Both lines' ad agencies
-- JWT for Royal and
Agency for Norwegian -- referred calls to the client. Neither
company responded by press time.
"I don't expect the industry to address this," said Mr.
Levinstein. "This is an important time of the season for
cruise-line marketing, and a lot of lines have attractive
promotions in the marketplace already."
In fact, many think the Triumph disaster won't affect Carnival
all that much. Jay Herring, author of "The Truth About Cruise
Ships," said: "The industry is bulletproof; it's recession-proof.
People will continue to cruise. This is barely a blip on Carnival's