Skift Take

When you can't go a whole month without your cruise company having a major maintenance issue, price isn't your problem. Underpaid workers, cutting corners, and underinvestment are.

Carnival Corp. is offering a Caribbean cruise for as little as $38 a night, less than a stay at Motel 6, after an engine fire on the Triumph stranded passengers at sea for several days.

A four-night trip on Carnival’s Inspiration, leaving Miami on April 22, costs $149 a person, including meals and some beverages, according to the cruise company’s website yesterday. The lowest nightly rate at the budget-priced Motel 6 chain was $39.99, according to an online ad.

Carnival, based in Miami, generated headlines worldwide in February after the engine fire on the Triumph left 3,100 passengers at sea for several days with limited food and toilet service. The ship broke loose from its moorings in high winds last week in Mobile, Alabama, where it is being repaired.

“The prices did go down,” said Manny Lubian, president of Futura Travel Inc. in Miami. “An empty ship doesn’t make as much money. They’d rather have bodies in them, buying drinks and spending money.”

Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said on a March 15 conference call that fares were running slightly ahead of last year. Bookings in the three-week period after the Triumph incident were lower for the company’s Carnival-brand ships, he said. Volume recovered after the company offered “new marketing promotions,” he said.

Cruise pricing also took a hit last year after Carnival’s Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.

Post Holiday

Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for the world’s largest cruise operator, declined to comment on pricing. The Inspiration’s four-night itinerary includes stops in Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico, according to the website.

The week was expected to be slow, following spring break in the U.S. and tax season, Lubian said.

Immediately after the fire, cruises on the Triumph were offered as low as $319 a person for four nights, or $80 a night, after its return to service later this year. Today, the lowest advertised price for a five-night trip on the Triumph out of Galveston, Texas, with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan, was $289, or $58 a night, for an Oct. 7 departure.

The $149 fare on the Inspiration is nonrefundable and based on two travelers, according to the website. Government fees and taxes bring the total to $454 for two.

Carnival gained 0.6 percent to $33.93 yesterday. The stock has declined 7.7 percent this year, compared with a 10 percent increase for the S&P 500 stock index.

Last month, Carnival cut its annual profit forecast to reflect costs from the Triumph incident, lower expectations for the entire fleet and expenses to bolster backup systems on ships. The company expects profit of $1.80 to $2.10 a share, down from a maximum of $2.40 a share previously.

Editors: Rob Golum and Anthony Palazzo.

To contact the reporter on this story: Christopher Palmeri in Los Angeles at [email protected]. To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at [email protected].


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Tags: carnival, motel 6

Photo credit: The Carnival Inspiration leaves Tampa, Florida through the Sparkman Channel. Bill Rogers / Flickr

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