Miami-based Carnival, the world's largest travel and leisure company measured by revenue, is salivating at the idea of finally getting into Cuba as is every company from Marriott to American Airlines.
Carnival Corp. can’t wait to get into Havana, shallow port and all, if the U.S. Congress eventually overturns the Cuba embargo.
Arnold Donald, the Carnival Corp. CEO, said there is pent-up demand for Americans to cruise to Cuba and the cruise line is “excited” about the prospects.
Donald envisions altering Caribbean itineraries to include port calls in Cuba, adding that there are about 11 ports in Cuba, and Carnival could get into some of them with ships of various sizes.
Speaking during Carnival’s fourth quarter of 2014 earnings call today, Donald said the Havana port has “narrow drafts,” but some of the line’s ships could visit.
Investment and infrastructure improvements would be needed over time, Donald said.
Donald’s statement on Cuba follow President Obama’s announcement that the U.S. will normalize relations with Cuba and take steps to loosen current travel restrictions.
The Carnival Corp. CEO also commented on its announcement that it would run an advertisement in the upcoming Super Bowl. He said marketing spend would increase 25 percent in 2015 and would be geared to attracting first-time cruisers and turning them into “lifetime advocates” for cruising.
He noted that Carnival benefitted from an increased number of positive mentions in the press in 2014, and there will be increased public relations and marketing efforts in 2014 to keep that going.
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Photo credit: Port Havana couldn't accommodate Carnival Corp.'s larger ships but ships of varying sizes could get in. Pictured is the port on January 29, 2012. Robbie Sproule / Flickr.com