As the cruise industry continues to recover from the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Carnival Cruise Line has shown unwavering dedication to its customers and the vacation experience.
Carnival Senior Vice President of Global Sales and Trade Marketing Adolfo Perez spoke to TravelPulse about a multitude of topics, including the company’s resurgence in 2022, wave season, travel advisors, sustainability initiatives, diversity efforts and more.
Here is the full Q&A session with Perez:
TravelPulse (TP): The travel industry is looking to get back to some semblance of normalcy in 2022 and the cruise industry will be at the forefront of that resurgence. What is Carnival expecting in 2022 as compared to 2021 and what are some trends the company is tracking?
Adolfo Perez (AP): Well for starters, we’re going to continue to bring back our fleet. We currently have 22 of our 23 ships in operations in all of our year-round U.S. homeports. We’ll have the full fleet back by this summer (May) when Carnival Splendor begins sailing from Seattle.
And of course, 2022 is the year of our 50th birthday, so we just finished a series of special Sailabrations, where many of those features will be replicated on our ships throughout the year whether it be with our retail outlets, food and beverage offerings, casino sweepstakes and other parts of our guest offerings. The arrival of our newest Excel-class ship and sister ship to Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, to her vastly remodeled new terminal at PortMiami this November will cap off the birthday festivities. We have started revealing her products, themes and features and will continue to do so throughout the year.
We also used the pause in guest operations to give many ships in our fleet our new hull design livery during dry dock, and that initiative will continue. It’s a smart new look with a dramatic blue and red accent – and we’ve even updated our officer uniforms to match the new livery, with navy blue slacks replacing the all-white uniform our officers had worn.
We are hopeful to have a specific timeline to get back to guest operations in Australia later in the year, as well. And with the improving public health situation and the easing of operating protocols and restrictions, we expect to see great guest response to the pent-up demand for travel, and for cruising specifically. We’ll also be converting Costa Magica to a Carnival Cruise Line ship, so we’ll have news to share about that during 2022.
Before the pandemic, the three hottest trends in travel were: personalization, multi-generational travel, and experiential travel. We think Carnival is positioned to continue to take advantage of all three trends, which we see continuing as we have returned our fleet back into service. Whether it be best friends, spouses, extended family or large groups – every person on a Carnival cruise can have their own unique set of experiences every day, and still meet up for dinner, if that’s what they want. We looked at the arrival of Mardi Gras and its BOLT roller coaster as a great opportunity to build a relationship with new potential guests. Not everyone likes roller coasters, but the fact that a cruise ship can have a roller coaster captured the imagination of so many people. So, we’re going to continue to lean into those three trends to offer something for everyone – and in an environment where everyone feels welcome, appreciated, and respected.
TP: To celebrate the cruise line’s 50th birthday, the company launched special Carnival Sailabration Cruises. How did they go? What made them different from the standard Carnival experience?
AP: The 17 themed Sailabrations sailings featured at-sea ship meetups, as well as special entertainment and programming. Before stepping on board, guests were welcomed into our cruise terminals-turned-birthday parties with fun music, signage, and décor. Upon embarkation, the celebration began as each ship hosted a 50th Birthday Bash Sailaway Party where guests were invited to wear their favorite Carnival gear, vintage or modern, as Playlist Productions cast members join the ships’ Cruise Director, Fun Squad and DJs to rock to festive tunes.
The highlight of the commemorative birthday sailings however were the unique meetups at sea where our guests had the opportunity to not only celebrate with each other on board but also with other Carnival ships. Ships throughout the Carnival fleet met to host the biggest birthday parties at sea in Baja, Mexico; Cozumel; and The Bahamas. Guests also participated in the biggest Ship-Tok at sea, where the ships’ Cruise Directors and Fun Squads taught and led a choreographed dance inspired by our 50th birthday. The Ship-Tok is posted on tiktok.com/@carnival.
TP: Wave season is upon us. Where are the booking levels for 2022 compared to 2021? As compared to pre-pandemic totals in 2019?
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AP: We don’t report specific numbers, but what we have clearly seen since our restart in July 2021 is that our guests have missed cruising and there is a pent-up demand for cruising. Guests are happy to be back on board and are definitely showing their enthusiasm.
TP: Do you think Carnival and the cruise industry as a whole are ready for the influx of bookings from a staffing perspective? From a capacity perspective?
AP: From a capacity perspective, we’ve quickly brought our ships back into service, and by May will have all 23 of our ships sailing from all of our U.S. year-round homeports, offering our guests lots of choices when it comes to ships, itineraries and departure ports. From a staffing perspective, we continue to ramp up our call centers to alleviate hold times for guests with bookings that have been changed or modified as it relates to updates to our ship deployment.
TP: What effort have been made to assist travel advisors who previously worked with Carnival and were directly impacted by the pandemic?
AP: Our travel advisors have stuck by us through some tough times, and for that, we want to celebrate and thank them more than ever. We continue to look for new opportunities within our Loyalty Rocks! Reward program to give perks to our travel advisors whether that be our 50th Birthday Booking promo where they can earn 50 bonus rewards points for every two new bookings, or our Carnival Playbook game that gave travel advisors the chance to win a free cruise. The amazing work travel advisors do for their clients every day has been a huge part of our success over the last 50 years, so we hope that they feel our appreciation for all that they do.
TP: What are some sustainability efforts being made by Carnival and the cruise industry as a whole to make it more environmentally friendly?
AP: At Carnival, our highest responsibility and top priority is compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of our guests, the people in the communities we touch and serve, and our shipboard and shoreside employees.
At Carnival, we take our role as stewards of the environment very seriously. We continue to enhance our already comprehensive sustainability program with one goal in mind – to preserve and protect our planet’s biodiversity and precious natural resources.
Being a good corporate citizen and a steward of the environment is embedded in our corporate vision, company values and our daily dialogue with employees, business partners and guests.
Some of the ways we are addressing sustainability include:
—Our first Excel-class ship, Mardi Gras, was the first cruise ship in North America to be powered by liquefied natural gas (LNG). The maritime industry’s most advanced fuel technology, LNG is among the cleanest fuels in the world, significantly reducing emissions with cleaner exhaust. Mardi Gras’ sister ships Carnival Celebration (2022) and Carnival Jubilee (2023) will also be powered by LNG.
—We have committed to a reduction in food waste and have installed biological food waste digesters across the Carnival fleet that break down food waste and facilitate the separation of non-food materials for safe, environmentally-friendly disposal.
—We have implemented procedures to reduce the purchase and consumption of single-use packaging, plastic and service items.
TP: What efforts are being made by Carnival as it relates to diversity, equity and inclusion?
AP: Carnival Cruise Line has a workforce that hails from more than 120 nationalities around the world. Our rich cultural tapestry of highly talented and motivated team members is truly the secret behind our success and helps create a culture that allows everyone to feel valued and respected.
We are focused on ensuring that our diverse workforce is given every opportunity to contribute and thrive in an environment that values equity and inclusion across our organization. We are putting this commitment into action by cultivating talent from different demographics in our nautical teams and introducing our entire fleet team to the Carnival Better Together initiative, which allows us to keep our culture commitments at the core of everything we do.