American holidaymakers are choosing to avoid cruises in the Mediterranean because they have been put off by the refugee crisis, the industry finally admitted this week.
Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald, speaking at the announcement of the company’s latest financial results, said earnings until the end of the year will be lower than forecast, and that the migrant issue was making it difficult to achieve expected levels of fares for 2016.
So at least Carnival are now facing up to the reality that other cruise line bosses ducked away from at the Seatrade Europe conference in Hamburg, as I reported two weeks ago.
Donald said images of bodies being washed ashore and of boats packed with refugees, shown on TV news broadcasts, were affecting customer behaviour. Two of Carnival’s ships have stopped to rescue refugees from boats in the Mediterranean this summer.
Carnival Corp is the parent company of Cunard, P&O and Princess Cruises, and made about $6 billion (£3.9 billion) revenue – more than a third of its total – from European operations last year.
The crisis, and the fear of terrorist violence, are having other effects on cruising. Two operators, Regent Seven Seas Cruises and Oceania have cancelled calls to the Greek island of Lesbos because of the number of refugees crowding into its capital, Mytilene (pictured above).
Other cruise lines, including Celebrity and Costa, have cancelled calls to Istanbul for the remainder of 2015 following an increase in tension in Turkey.
The short-term effect of the problem could bring bargain fares for British passengers as cruise lines strive to fill the berths left empty by stay-at-home Americans. Longer-term, fares may rise as ships are moved out of the Med to cruise to alternative destinations.
Picture courtesy Daily Mirror