“Carnival, with its affordable pricing, convenient close-to-home embarkation ports and variety of short cruise options—not to mention a unique onboard ambiance and wide range of dining, entertainment and activity options—truly offers an incredible value to consumers,” says Vance Gulliksen, spokesperson for Carnival Cruise Lines. Especially in today’s economy, travelers are looking for ways to get the most for their money, and with all that Carnival offers it guests, it’s no wonder the cruise line was awarded Recommend’s Readers’ Choice Award for Best Cruise Line for Value for the 10th consecutive year.
“Being selected as the best value in cruising means the world to Carnival as value is one of the core elements of our brand,” says Gulliksen. “The concept of value—exceeding expectations by providing consumers with more than what they pay for—is a very important part of any purchase, particularly as it relates to vacations.”
2009 has proven to be a good year for the cruise line as Carnival launched the largest ship in its fleet to date—the Carnival Dream, which debuted Sept. 21. This 3,646-passanger ship features Ocean Plaza—an indoor/outdoor cafe and entertainment venue; the Carnival WaterWorks aqua park; whirlpools that extend over the ship’s beam; and a variety of new stateroom categories, including some larger options that are ideal for families. Following its debut in Europe and two 8-day voyages from New York, Carnival Dream relocated to Port Canaveral for a special 9-day voyage followed by the launch of its year-round 7-day Caribbean service in early December.
Meanwhile, Carnival Ecstasy and Carnival Fascination have become the fifth and sixth ships to undergo multimillion-dollar refurbishments that will include the installation of a water park, an adults-only retreat, tropical-themed mid-ship pool area and 98 balconies, all part of the line’s $250 million “Evolutions of Fun” product enhancement initiative for its eight Fantasy-class vessels.
Carnival has also launched a new Your Choice Dining program, providing a selection of three different dinner seating options for guests. In addition to early- or late-assigned seating, the cruise line has introduced a Your Time open seating option to accommodate individual guest preferences. The program is already available on five ships with an additional eight ships to be added by the end of the year. The program will be available on all of Carnival’s 22 ships by summer 2010.
So what can agents—and their clients—expect Carnival to deliver in 2010?
“Carnival will continue to emphasize value in 2010,” Gulliksen tells Recommend, “by enhancing the value of its vacations by offering more close-to-home departure points which saves consumers time and money by allowing them to drive to their port of embarkation.”
For 2010, in fact, Carnival will launch the first year-round cruise program from Charleston, S.C., with 5- and 6-day cruises aboard the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy. “We will also operate our Alaska cruise program from Seattle, providing a convenient option for guests wishing to visit the Last Frontier,” he adds.
“To Carnival, value means delivering fun, memorable vacations at affordable prices, with the widest variety of options in the cruise industry,” says Gulliksen. “Consumers today are taking a hard look at every aspect of their lives—particularly as it relates to vacations—and cruising provides a greater overall value as it offers a lower ‘all-in cost’ relative to other vacation alternatives. Cruising’s superior value is driven by industry-wide factors such as all-inclusive pricing but Carnival’s additional advantages make a ‘Fun Ship’ cruise the best value in travel, hands down.”