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matter greatly to our guests so it’s important that it is reflected,” says Donald. “The move that [Carnival UK chief executive] David Noyes has made [in bringing in a boss for both Cunard and P&O Cruises] is part of the tweaks he’s been making to the organisation. “We need to effectively support


all of our brands and if that means we need more focus on it, then we’ll do just that.” Unable to speak about current


performance because of Carnival being in a financial closed period, Donald reflected instead on the group’s first-quarter results in March, which showed net profits had almost doubled to $301 million year on year. The P&O brand has gained


and lost a ship over the past 18 months. The line saw a 30% jump in capacity when it launched Britannia last year, but in recent weeks it lost its smallest ship, Adonia, which has been switched to the new Fathom brand.


Pricing and capacity


The line’s UK team says its main focus is now on raising prices. However, Donald hints that new capacity could be on the horizon. “We see great growth prospects


for P&O Cruises. Britannia is performing spectacularly well. “We have plans over time for additional capacity. There are no time frames on this.” Carnival Corporation this year launches four ships, two of which – Carnival Vista and Koningsdam – began sailing last month. The latter marks Holland America Line’s first new ship since 2010, and Donald admits it was “long overdue”. Carnival Vista also provides a defining year for Carnival Cruise Line, marking the brand’s return to Europe, having pulled out in 2014.


Describing Carnival Cruise Line


as a “powerhouse in the Caribbean and Australia”, Donald says its business for European cruises have been a hit too, selling well in the UK as well as the US. While there will be no European


deployment in 2017, the brand intends to return in 2018 when its next new ship launches. And the new-builds are unlikely to stop, with Donald “very happy” to have options secured to build more. China and Cuba are currently


Carnival’s focus. The group has shown clear intent to grow China as a source market, but Cuba has been a more recent interest, with Adonia being the first US-owned cruise ship to sail from Miami to Cuba in 50 years. “We are always looking at new and emerging markets, but China and Cuba are where it’s at right now,” he says. Fathom boss Tara Russell


previously told Travel Weekly she wanted a fleet of ships, but Donald was quick to say it was too early to be “mapping the universe”. It is not currently sold in the UK, but Donald insists it will happen.


Agents’ role Travel has faced its fair share of challenges in the past 12 months, whether its health scares such as the Zika virus or terrorism threats and attacks. And Donald believes it’s the role of the cruise line and of travel agents to entice the public to want to travel. “The challenges for the industry


are always there – there is always a situation. The challenge is to convey how fundamentally safe a cruise holiday is. That’s our task, but agents play a vital role and they can allay any concerns.” Competitor cruise companies


have admitted that the recent terrorist attacks have put


The challenge is to convey how fundamentally safe a cruise holiday is. That’s our task, but agents play a vital role and they can allay any concerns


Americans off coming to the Mediterranean. And while Donald agrees, he was quick to downplay the impact on his 10 brands. “These situations have an immediate reaction, but soon afterwards it returns to normal,” he says. “In the most recent bout of things going on in the world, the US in general has been impacted when they think about going to Europe, but for us, we haven’t seen a dramatic impact on bookings.”


Commission rates


Commission has been a big topic for UK agents when it comes to Carnival Corporation ever since P&O Cruises and Cunard cut commission to 5% in 2012. Asked whether the brands had moved past this or whether commission was still a bone of contention, Donald believes the brands have made “great strides” in strengthening relationships. While in the past he’s been keen


to reiterate that agents should put customer service ahead of earning potential (Travel Weekly, March 12), Donald realises commission will always be a key topic, adding: “It’s how they make their money, after all. “We’ve done some things around commission in the past, but in terms of a travel partner’s affinity to our brands, we’re working well together. We have made great strides on the relationships we have with the trade.” Another challenge this year will


be trying to win over agents with the Costa Cruises brand. The line cut out the trade in December, only to perform a U-turn within days, claiming it was never the intention in the first place. Donald insists the message at the


time had “got lost in translation”. He says UK agents can still book Costa if they want to, but admits the line has no real ambitions to drive growth in the UK. “Is the UK a big focus for Costa?


It’s not, let’s be honest. It never was. We don’t expect volumes and volumes from the UK.” Today (May 19), Donald is due to address more than 400 agents


WITH ARNOLD


Q. What was the last book you read? A. Blind Man’s Bluff.


Q. Where is your favourite holiday spot? A. Anywhere with my grandkids.


Q. What is your main hobby or interest and why? A. Cruising! Because it is the greatest vacation experience there is.


Q. What’s been your favourite experience working in travel? A. Cuba, so far.


Q. If you could change one thing in the cruise industry what would it be? A. That consumers would have a perfect understanding of what cruising is all about – then we couldn’t build enough cruise ships to satisfy demand.


Q. If you could have dinner with any five people (dead or alive), who would you pick? A. Jesus Christ, Muhammad, Mahatma Gandi, Cleopatra and Oliver Cromwell.


Q. What is your favourite film? A. Most recently, The Revenant.


at the 10th annual Clia Conference in Southampton. “The trade is so critical to our business and the industry overall,” he says. Donald believes a big challenge


is ensuring the trade has the right tools and information to “grow their cruise business”, “express what cruise is about to customers”, and “articulate the distinctions


between different brands”. ›Travel Weekly is trade media partner for the Clia Conference in Southampton on May 18-20


19 May 2016 travelweekly.co.uk 15


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