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The business model driving Carnival Corporation is recognition and respect for each brand. "The value of each company is more than its name," said Micky Arison, chairman and CEO. "Each brand needs its own unique history and unique future in order to be successful," he said. "Each company has its own true culture, which the customer expects to find.

Bigger ships carrying more crew and passengers also mean that the consequences will be bigger if something were to happen.

"Traditionally, the human factor has been the key to safe operations at sea," said Jonathan Earthy, principle human factor specialist at Lloyd's Register EMEA (LR). "We are looking at thousands of years of evolution. But now, the business requirements and the technological development are happening faster than evolution can cope.

Ten new ships are slated to be introduced in 2004, which will boost industry capacity by more than one million new passengers, according to estimates by Cruise Industry News (CIN). This translates into a 12 percent passenger capacity increase over 2003, which was up about seven percent over 2002.

The world fleet of some 250 ships will be able to carry nearly 13 million passengers worldwide in 2004.

As we write this, 2004 is promising to be a good year for the cruise industry. Propelled by the introduction of the Queen Mary 2 in January, the industry has received broad publicity worldwide that can only help generate more interest in cruise vacations.

Add to that, a series of introductions of new ships in 2004, offering yet a broader range of product, and more ships sailing from more ports - making cruises more accessible and affordable.

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