Itinerary Planning: 2030 Here We Come!

Carnival Magic

The big planning window stretches all the way to the end of the decade, Fred Stein, vice president of itinerary planning and fleet deployment at Carnival Cruise Line, told Cruise Industry News.

“We have a framework that goes out close to the end of the decade. But that is not to say that things will not change over time. In terms of firm planning we are open for sale through April of 2022 and will be opening for sale through April of 2023 likely in September of this year. We are now in the throes of finalizing the details.”

The planning criteria remains the same, according to Stein, although fuel consumption and fuel cost plays a bigger role.

“From a profitability standpoint, we look at the ticket revenue and onboard revenue opportunity, balanced off by the cost of fuel and the cost of entry into a port. That is the general approach we take for all the itineraries,” he said. “But there are a lot of other considerations that go into the planning as well, such as feedback from the nautical team, whether we can get into a port, and what speed a vessel needs to maintain to get there. Technical and environmental aspects have become big factors in our planning process.

“We also get input from our hotel ops and destination teams and the shore ex group, whether a port makes sense, in terms of getting people off in a certain timeframe and whether we will be able to provide a good guest experience.”

Added Stein: “Also thrown into this mix, we survey past guests, travel agents and people who have not cruised before, to gauge their level of interest in particular destinations. We use that to decide on places we are not currently sailing to, whether it would make sense to incorporate them in future itineraries.”

Among the many developments for 2021, Stein said he would like to highlight Carnival’s agreement with the Port of Norfolk, which will enable the cruise line to bring larger ships there.
Carnival announced a five-year agreement with the City of Norfolk earlier this year to operate seasonally from the Half Moon Cruise Terminal Center through 2025.

Baltimore will also see a new ship. When the Legend finishes her 2021 European season, she will go to Baltimore, which means a new and different ship there for the first time since 2009, Stein noted. The Pride, which is there now, moves to Tampa, joining the Paradise.

Meanwhile, Carnival’s new terminal in Port Canaveral is coming along nicely, Stein said, and will be ready for the Mardi Gras when she launches seven-day service on alternating Eastern and Western Caribbean cruises. Port Canaveral will also be ready for the industry’s first LNG bunkering in North America.

When the Mardi Gras’ yet-to-be-named sister ship arrives in 2022, she will be deployed out of Miami, where Terminal F is being renovated.

Building up in Texas, Galveston will get its fourth Carnival ship for year-round service in 2021, when the Radiance arrives in May. She will operate on a nine- and five-day rotation, which helps opening up some new itinerary options from Galveston, Stein said.

On the West Coast, Carnival has three ships sailing Mexican Riviera cruises from Long Beach, and in 2021, Carnival will also be deploying a larger ship in Alaska with the Freedom sailing from Seattle, replacing the Carnival Spirit, which will be year-round in Australia.

“We have 19 homeports in North America, including Vancouver and San Juan,” he said. “We are primarily focused on North American (passenger) sourcing for our ships based here and Australian sourcing for our ships based there. We continue to focus on our drive-to close-to-home port strategy.”

Excerpt from Cruise Industry News Quarterly Magazine: Spring 2020

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