Adding more capacity to its Spanish Pullmantur Cruises brand, Royal Caribbean Cruises Chairman and CEO Richard Fain told Cruise Industry News that "long term, Spain and Portugal will be good passenger sourcing markets, even if pricing is low now.
"We are having a difficult time in today's economy, so is every other business. I think though that not only do we have to get through the immediate environment, we have to position ourselves to really take advantage of where we are at the end of this,
because this too shall pass," Fain said. "The Spanish economy has suffered earlier and more severely than many others, but it will recover. And we have the largest market share in that market We intend to continue to build that. ... We believe that's a long-term good market. And that we're well positioned in that market as the economy recovers."
Because economic troubles are not limited to one country, there are no contingency plans for Royal Caribbean to retreat from any one market. Pullmantur will continue building the product so, when the recession is over, it's in a good place to take advantage, he said.
"The market already is receiving us very well. Pricing is suffering, as it is in every industry. But the Spanish people are learning more and more about cruising - and also Portugal, by the way. And that will continue to help us as we recover," Fain said.
When Royal Caribbean acquired Pullmantur in 2006, the brand had an estimated cruise passenger capacity of 158,170 that grew to 209,920 in 2007; 294,920 in 2008; and is expected to continue growing to 462,920 in 2009, with the transfer of the Sovereign of the Seas in addition to the Island Star (ex-Horizon). The expansion has been partially offset by the transfer of the Holiday Dream to CDF Cruises in 2008.