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  #1  
Old March 17th, 2011, 07:10 PM
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Post A Surprise Ending: Why Did Carnival Ditch Mobile with No Warning?

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A Surprise Ending: Why Did Carnival Ditch Mobile with No Warning?
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  #2  
Old March 17th, 2011, 08:09 PM
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Check out the latest Carnival Cruise Line news from Cruise Critic:

A Surprise Ending: Why Did Carnival Ditch Mobile with No Warning?

Laura:

I think Pollyanna and Jabee's comments (echoing the travel agents and port authority) about the great capacity numbers only shows how little folks know about what it takes to make money on a cruise ship.

During these discussions, folks have voiced that they will miss Mobile because it was less expensive than their nearest competitor. That should have been clue number one.

Filling a ship ( at any capacity ) does not work if the price is discounted to much. Also, this does not address how the real money is made on the ship. I call these the "back end" revenues (Spa, Shore Excursion, Bar sales, Casino etc)

I think it is simple common sense that no cruise line is going to leave a profitable market. And I think it clearly demonstrates, yet again, a lack of understanding how the cruise market works, for a Mobile official to say there is anything that they could have done if they had been given a heads up.

No amount of "advertising" is going to make people spend more money once they get on a cruise ship. Again, capacity wasn't the issue. Total Cabin Revenue was.

And as someone named in the article, I have to say that I was not so much defending Carnival as I was trying to find and present the facts. I prefer to know as much as possible before forming an opinion.

If Mobile had been "wronged" in some way, then the facts would have proven it. But all the facts proved was that 23 million dollars was invested in this project and Carnival passengers generated 24.5 million in revenue by the end of the year. (according to Al.com ~ Mobile's Web Newsite)

Mobile elected to participate in a fickle business where something as minor as rising fuel costs and a slowing economy to something has major as 9/11 could bring it to a screeching halt.

Mobile is not alone. San Diego is sitting with a brand new terminal that has never been used. Houston has been sitting on a brand new terminal for over a year with the only use being during a brief hurricane event.

The City of Mobile's leadership is supposedly known for its mismanagement and fiscal irresponsible behavior according to a CC member that lives there.

They certainly demonstrated many incompetent business moves, such as purchasing the facility from the Retirement Systems of Alabama 3 years ago without any permanent or long term commitment from Carnival.

As for Mobile not being aware that their particular market was not producing, any reasonable person, with an ounce of common sense, would have known that if a cruise line had a producing hot market; they would have been protecting their territory by locking in the port space.

Just like Carnival "ditched" Mobile, at any time Mobile could have "ditched" Carnival for NCL or RCCL, because there was no contract. I do not recall any articles about how NCL or RCCL were knocking down Mobile's door to get a piece of the action.

No cruise line is going to discuss their confidencial proprietary information such as productivity of one ship with the outside world. You can't even tell how many cabins a cruise line has available on any given cruise. They hold this kind of information close to the vest as they should.

Carnival honored all contracts and gave Mobile 7 years by the time the Elation leaves.

As for the title that Carnival "ditched" Mobile with no warning, I believe the "warning signs" were like huge red flags all over the place.

As an outsider who cruised out of Mobile 4 times in the past 9 months, I saw them and I wasn't even looking. Mobile not educating itself about the product they were dealing with and ignoring all those warning signs is not Carnival's fault.

As for the quickness of the decision and the manner in which it was delivered, I have my opinions about that as well...but that is a post for another day.
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  #3  
Old March 17th, 2011, 09:00 PM
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Mobile got the same advance notice that New Orleans did that Carnival was yanking Ecstasy from New Orleans and replacing with the somewhat similar, but not as updated Elation.

The net result is not that Carnival stole a ship from Mobile and gave it to New Orleans. The net result is that Carnival stole a ship from the Gulf of Mexico and gave it to Port Canaveral.

Personally, I think it is related to Carnival Magic going to Galveston and not to Florida, and they are trying to re-balance ships.
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  #4  
Old March 17th, 2011, 09:24 PM
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Mobile got the same advance notice that New Orleans did that Carnival was yanking Ecstasy from New Orleans and replacing with the somewhat similar, but not as updated Elation.

The net result is not that Carnival stole a ship from Mobile and gave it to New Orleans. The net result is that Carnival stole a ship from the Gulf of Mexico and gave it to Port Canaveral.

Personally, I think it is related to Carnival Magic going to Galveston and not to Florida, and they are trying to re-balance ships.
"Stole" a ship?
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  #5  
Old March 17th, 2011, 09:26 PM
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"Stole" a ship?
Doesn't Carnival own both ships? They are a business they can do what they feel is right for their business plan and their stockholders.
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Old March 17th, 2011, 09:35 PM
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Doesn't Carnival own both ships? They are a business they can do what they feel is right for their business plan and their stockholders.
Of course they can and should. And they owe no advance notice - why let the competition know what the number one cruise line's strategic plan is ahead of time?
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  #7  
Old March 17th, 2011, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by LauraS View Post
Check out the latest Carnival Cruise Line news from Cruise Critic:

A Surprise Ending: Why Did Carnival Ditch Mobile with No Warning?



Quote:
A Surprise Ending: Why Did Carnival Ditch Mobile with No Warning?


Interesting title, but I'm not so sure it's appropriate; Eight full months is 'No warning? The finality of calling it an ending won't help in the efforts to entice a major cruise line to call nor Carnival to return.

I also found St Clair's comments to be counter productive for someone wishing to negotiate;

Quote:
"Out of the clear blue, I was called Thursday morning at home by Carnival, saying it was pulling the ship as of October 22
Quote:
"As port director, I have negotiating power," St Clair says.
A more pragmatic approach would be more likely to succeed than public outcry against a company making strategic financial decisions. In my opinion, St Clair has damaged the port's ability to attract a new 'partner' by not acting more like a business partner and less like a disinterested bureaucrat. Bureaucrats will never take the lead until they realize their own jobs are in jeopardy.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 09:33 AM
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Default Adding my 2 cents . . .

I travel to Mobile about 4 times per year on business. It is 4.5 hours drive from my home.

In August 2009, I booked a cruise for my family, 6 cabins = 14 people. We cruised the Fantasy out of Mobile in FEB. 2010.
Previous to our cruise, I read on Cruise Critic many many displeasure's with the Mobile Port. From parking to the debarkation process of getting through customs.

My experience was exactly that! A Displeasure

We waited in line for 30 minutes trying to get into the parking decks, only to be turned away and told; drive around the block, make a U-turn to the left, down another block, go under the expressway, turn right, follow the fence until there was a gate on the right, turn in there. A small blue sign read, Cruise Parking.
Unload all our bags, roll them across a parking lot, in rain, and wait in a open parking lot for a bus, helped load all our bags in the bus under storage, then helped unload once we finally arrived at the cruise terminal.

Our debarkation process getting through customs was a very time consuming process. After leaving the ship, getting down stairs to retrieve or luggage, we waited over 1 hour, standing in lines to get to a customs agent.

This past February 2011, same family members, picked Tampa (3 hours further drive) over Mobile. Pulled into the Tampa Port, luggage was unloaded by a porter, and entire family was on the ship within 45 minutes of driving off the interstate exit, into the City of Tampa.
Debarkation: From the time we exited the ship, within 30 minutes, we were getting back on the interstate and heading north.

My wife and I have been on 8 cruises, 5 different ports, Mobile Port was the most difficult experience of all the ports.
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  #9  
Old March 18th, 2011, 09:35 AM
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Originally Posted by PaulMedik View Post

Interesting title, but I'm not so sure it's appropriate; Eight full months is 'No warning? The finality of calling it an ending won't help in the efforts to entice a major cruise line to call nor Carnival to return.


I also found St Clair's comments to be counter productive for someone wishing to negotiate;

A more pragmatic approach would be more likely to succeed than public outcry against a company making strategic financial decisions. In my opinion, St Clair has damaged the port's ability to attract a new 'partner' by not acting more like a business partner and less like a disinterested bureaucrat. Bureaucrats will never take the lead until they realize their own jobs are in jeopardy.

Excellent point.

I have to wonder if the title would be the same for a thread where Cruise Critic removed someone for a valid reason ?

"Cruise Critic ditches (name of member) without warning."
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  #10  
Old March 18th, 2011, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by markntara View Post
I travel to Mobile about 4 times per year on business. It is 4.5 hours drive from my home.

In August 2009, I booked a cruise for my family, 6 cabins = 14 people. We cruised the Fantasy out of Mobile in FEB. 2010.
Previous to our cruise, I read on Cruise Critic many many displeasure's with the Mobile Port. From parking to the debarkation process of getting through customs.

My experience was exactly that! A Displeasure

We waited in line for 30 minutes trying to get into the parking decks, only to be turned away and told; drive around the block, make a U-turn to the left, down another block, go under the expressway, turn right, follow the fence until there was a gate on the right, turn in there. A small blue sign read, Cruise Parking.
Unload all our bags, roll them across a parking lot, in rain, and wait in a open parking lot for a bus, helped load all our bags in the bus under storage, then helped unload once we finally arrived at the cruise terminal.

Our debarkation process getting through customs was a very time consuming process. After leaving the ship, getting down stairs to retrieve or luggage, we waited over 1 hour, standing in lines to get to a customs agent.

This past February 2011, same family members, picked Tampa (3 hours further drive) over Mobile. Pulled into the Tampa Port, luggage was unloaded by a porter, and entire family was on the ship within 45 minutes of driving off the interstate exit, into the City of Tampa.
Debarkation: From the time we exited the ship, within 30 minutes, we were getting back on the interstate and heading north.

My wife and I have been on 8 cruises, 5 different ports, Mobile Port was the most difficult experience of all the ports.

We cruised 4 times out of Mobile in the past 9 months.

One of our experiences getting on the ship was the EXACT same situation (off site parking, bus, rain ... YUCK) and that was with us arriving at 10:30AM. Add having a child with Autism to the mix.....

Another was almost as bad, but this time we had experience on our side and FOUGHT not to be rerouted to the off site parking lot. (what a great way to start a vacation)

The other times were not as bad BECAUSE we found the secret that VIP (Platinum and Milestone) also get VIP parking. They allow you early access to the parking garage. The down side to that is no one told us ... we found out completely by accident.

Inside the terminal on the first few cruises, VIP did not start "at the door" like Tampa and other ports. Now it does.

Of course my favorite story is when we were accused of "FAKING" the VIP on our Fun Pass May 2010, because the Carnival Rep could not find out name on the list at the VIP check in.

Now she did not have the character to say it to our faces. Oh no, hubby heard her whisper to another Rep..." I don't know how they got VIP on their Fun Pass. Might be "photoshopped"."

Thank her lucky stars that I did not hear it or I would have been MORE than happy to tell her how we got VIP on our Fun Pass.

You see...at the time we had about 35 Carnival cruises ... so we were Milestone. Mobile put Milestone names on the second page , top right corner in a little box.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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I also question St Clair's figures of 125 jobs.

I would like to see the documentation on that.
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  #12  
Old March 18th, 2011, 10:15 AM
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I also question St Clair's figures of 125 jobs.

I would like to see the documentation on that.
Most of the jobs would probably be limited hour part time ones in any case.

Last edited by golfadj; March 18th, 2011 at 10:15 AM.
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  #13  
Old March 18th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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I think it is simple common sense that no cruise line is going to leave a profitable market.
I agree with 99% of your post, but this isn't quite right. They will leave a profitable market if they think they'll find a more profitable market. CCL's fiduciary duty is to maximize profit for their shareholders.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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Most of the jobs would probably be limited hour part time ones in any case.
You are right...but that doesn't sound as bad as

125 JOBS LOST!!

I just learned a new term (written by a CC who lives there)....seems Mobile is known for its "voo doo" financial practices....

the 125 is probably just the latest example....
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Old March 18th, 2011, 10:23 PM
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Today, my husband had reason to speak with a Carnival VP about the reasons behind the move. He cited the fact that sailings from Mobile, mainly to Mexico, had to burn more expensive, low sulphur fuel for longer than ships out of east coast Florida ports that sail to Caribbean islands.

Additionally, he said that, though the ships sailed full, it was because fares were so deeply discounted. People simply weren't willing to pay higher fares out of Mobile, though they would in New Orleans or Miami, for example. Both of those cities are seen as "destinations"; Mobile is usually not.

Interestingly, he didn't cite the high airfares into Mobile as a cause, perhaps because so many of those who chose to cruise out of Mobile drove to the port.

The Carnival VP also said that local officials chose to ignore the fact - of which they were, or should have been aware - that Carnival was not happy about the low fares that were necessary to fill the ship. They chose to focus instead solely on the fact that the ships sailed full.

The bottom line was ... the bottom line, with a number of factors as contributing causes. Currently, Mobile just doesn't have enough caché to attract, in large enough numbers, cruisers looking for anything other than a cut-rate cruise experience.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 10:41 PM
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There was an article in the local paper yesterday about how some of the state politicians were going to pass legislation to try and attract a cruise line to South Texas. After reading the article about Mobile I think they may need to be impeached if they go through with this idea. I remember the then Director of Business Development for the local port telling me they would be guilty of gross negligence if they spent a single penny to bring a cruise line in here who would have absolutely no loyalty to the community. He was a lot smarter than I thought at the time.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 10:48 PM
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There was an article in the local paper yesterday about how some of the state politicians were going to pass legislation to try and attract a cruise line to South Texas. After reading the article about Mobile I think they may need to be impeached if they go through with this idea. I remember the then Director of Business Development for the local port telling me they would be guilty of gross negligence if they spent a single penny to bring a cruise line in here who would have absolutely no loyalty to the community. He was a lot smarter than I thought at the time.
Could the state politicians possibly be speaking of the Houston terminal that was completed over a year ago ... and still sits empty?

Obviously, they worked off the idea of "build it and they will come"...and no one came....(except for a brief period during the hurricane that messed up Galveston. But Carnival went right back to Galveston, when it was ready....just like they promised.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 10:56 PM
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I agree with 99% of your post, but this isn't quite right. They will leave a profitable market if they think they'll find a more profitable market. CCL's fiduciary duty is to maximize profit for their shareholders.
I agree. Just for the record, Mobile was NOT loosing money. It was just the "least" profitable of all the gulf coast ports.

While I do agree that it's CCL's "duty to maximize profit for their shareholders", I also believe that there should be some sort of balance between maximizing revenue without alienating and angering their source of revenue: their guests.

Carnival's departure from Mobile is a hard pill to swallow blaming revenue, specially when Carnival just posted over $2 BILLION DOLLARS and 552% NET PROFITS! It doesn't seem like Carnival was in a precarious situation...!
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Last edited by Tapi; March 18th, 2011 at 11:03 PM.
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  #19  
Old March 18th, 2011, 11:13 PM
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salty dingo salty dingo is offline
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I'm thinking it is very likely the Mobile cruises were full of people who did not gamble or drink much. Alabama is chock full of those rascals. I should know, I spent a large part of my life there!

So, people not losing money in the casino, not spending hundreds in alcohol, and not spending much on anything else, for that matter... just spells disaster for a cruise line.

The non-gambling, non-drinking crowd generally shuns NOLA, as a 'sinful' place (you people know who you are) and they are probably the most disappointed of all. They face a really long drive to FL or an airplane flight. Not good for the ultra-budget minded.
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Old March 18th, 2011, 11:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tapi View Post
I agree. Just for the record, Mobile was NOT loosing money. It was just the "least" profitable of all the gulf coast ports.

While I do agree that it's CCL's "duty to maximize profit for their shareholders", I also believe that there should be some sort of balance between maximizing revenue without alienating and angering their source of revenue: their guests.

Carnival's departure from Mobile is a hard pill to swallow blaming revenue, specially when Carnival just posted over $2 BILLION DOLLARS and 552% NET PROFITS! It doesn't seem like Carnival was in a precarious situation...!

Could you post me a link on that documentation? I have searched and searched for some specifics with no avail.....

all I can find that is that the Elation was not generating the targeted revenues.
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