|FIVE MINUTES WITH JUSTIN FRENCH, CARNIVAL CRUISE LINES|
|Managing director of Carnival Cruise Lines discusses new promotional policy, new ships and renovations|
With the recent announcement of Carnival Cruise Lines' new promotional policy, TRAVELHotNews.com contacted Justin French, managing director, international sales, to find out how the policy will affect travel agents. French also discusses the cruise line’s upcoming plans, newest ships and renovations.
|Justin French, managing director, international sales, Carnival Cruise Lines
TRAVELHotNews.com: How will the new promotional policy affect travel agents?
Justin French: In speaking with the thousands of agents we come into contact with each year, we hear significant praise for our firm stance on “no rebating.” Many of them have asked us to take an even stronger stance on this issue, which we did in 2010 and we’ve done with this new policy as well. Our objective is to create a structure that provides agents with the assurance that the rates they quote won’t be undercut by competitors. In revising this value-add policy, we’re able to better ensure that value-adds are being used to enhance agents’ sales and marketing plans, which is what they are intended to do.
THN: What is Carnival Cruise Lines planning for the remainder of 2012 and the beginning of 2013?
JF: Well, we just launched the new Carnival Breeze in Europe and having sailed on it myself, I have to say this is my favorite ship in the fleet yet...Canadians will be glad to know that the ship will be closer to home beginning in November when it’s based in Miami for year-round six- and eight-day Caribbean cruises.
In 2013, we’ll launch the new Carnival Sunshine, which will sail a schedule of nine- and 12-day Mediterranean voyages from Barcelona and Venice from April through October 2013, and then launch year-round seven-day Caribbean departures from New Orleans beginning November 2013.
THN: Can you tell us about some aspects of the Carnival Breeze that will appeal to travellers?
JF: This is the first ship in the fleet to feature all of the entertainment elements of our groundbreaking “Fun Ship 2.0” enhancement initiative. [This] includes Hasbro, The Game Show, with larger than life adaptations of the brand’s iconic games, and Playlist Productions, which combines captivating live performances with high-tech LED staging, and special effects to set a new standard in seagoing entertainment.
Other highlights include WaterWorks, offering splash-tastic water slides and a 300-gallon drenching bucket; and SportSquare, an expansive recreation area with a suspended ropes course, a miniature golf course and an outdoor fitness area.
The ship also features vibrant interiors and inviting public spaces, from the poolside RedFrog Rum Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar, to the sun-splashed Lido Marketplace restaurant, and a palm tree-lined indoor/outdoor café and live entertainment venue called Ocean Plaza. Staterooms incorporate a palette of pastel hues and a striking new design inspired by the Caribbean’s cool island breezes and warm sunsets.
THN: What are some of the major changes in the refitting of Carnival Destiny into Carnival Sunshine?
JF: At a cost of $155 million, this is our most ambitious refit and transformation project ever. The major changes guests will see is the incorporation of all our “Fun Ship 2.0” dining, bar and entertainment features, a reconfigured layout and the addition of 182 cabins. Since the changes are so extensive, we’re renaming the ship Carnival Sunshine following the dry-dock. The makeover will take place from February to April 2013 and be completed by Fincantieri.
THN: Once again, Carnival Splendor was named the cleanest ship at sea by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How does this recognition reflect on Carnival as a company?
JF: Carnival Splendor recently received a perfect 100 from the CDC – the sixth time it has received a perfect score. This is a reflection of the commitment to excellence that our company has overall. These are not easy feats to achieve and yet our ships are making record-setting accomplishments. It’s something we’re all proud of and something that guests should feel good about when sailing with Carnival.
THN: What are some trends that you have noticed from Canadian cruisers?
JF: Independent sources estimate that Caribbean itineraries represent approximately one third of all cruise business booked by Canadians. Alaska, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean continue to be the top three destinations in terms of Canadian consumer interest. We’ve also found that the vast majority of travellers are looking for itineraries that are seven days or longer.