Carnival offers a boatload of fun. The company is the world's #1 cruise operator, boasting about a dozen cruise lines and about 100 ships with a total passenger capacity of more than 212,000. Carnival operates in North America primarily through its Princess Cruise Line, Holland America, and Seabourn luxury cruise brand, as well as its flagship Carnival Cruise Lines unit. Brands such as AIDA, P&O Cruises, Iberocruceros, and Costa Cruises offer services to passengers in Europe, and the Cunard Line runs luxury trans-Atlantic liners. Carnival operates as a dual-listed company with UK-based Carnival plc, forming a single enterprise under a unified executive team.
Carnival's largest market is North America, which represents 50% of sales. Other major markets include Europe (35%) and Australia and Asia (combined, 12%).
Carnival maintains its top position in the industry by leveraging its cruise lines to penetrate a number of different markets. Carnival Cruises, a leading brand in the US, and Princess both target families, retirees, and other upper middle class customers with competitively priced cruise packages. Its popular destinations include the Caribbean, the Mexican Riviera, and Alaska. P&O Cruises chases after a similar target customer in the UK with trips to the Mediterranean and Scandinavia. (P&O also operates out of Australia and New Zealand.)
Holland America is known for its scenic getaways in New England, Canada, and along the Pacific coast. The company offers trips within the Asian market through its Costa Cruises. The line serves cruise-goers with Chinese-style food, mah-jongg tables in its casino, and luxury brands in its retail shops.
While Carnival has been known as the Fun Ship, the cruiser also attracts those looking for a fine ship. Carnival's Seabourn brand operates luxury cruises to upscale travelers and caters to them with fine food, personalized service, and exotic destinations worldwide. Similarly, its Swan Hellenic premium brand sails throughout Europe and Asia. Of course, luxury is the name of the game for Cunard, which provides a variety of cruises in addition to its liner services.
After posting record revenues of $15.8 billion in 2011, Carnival posted revenues of $15.4 billion 2012 and $15.5 billion in 2013. The slightly higher revenue for 2013 was driven by a 12% surge in cruise support revenue. Carnival was also helped by a 18% spike in sales from Australia and Asia during 2013.
Over the last few years, profits fell 43% from $1.91 billion in 2011 to $1.08 billion in 2013. The lower profits for 2013 was due to higher net cruise costs and a challenging economic environment in Europe. The cruise costs included voyage disruptions and related repair costs, higher advertising spend, new market development initiative costs in Japan, China, and Australia, and vessel enhancement expenses.
After experiencing a peak of operating cash flow in 2010, Carnival recognized a continuous decline in operating cash flow through 2013. Carnival's cash flow took a major hit with the the tragic incident of the Costa Concordia grounding off the coast of Italy that occurred in January 2012. In 2013 its operating cash flow decreased by $165 million due to an increase in cash used in receivables, claims reserves, and other liabilities and customer deposits.
Fueled by optimism for the future, Carnival has orders in place for eight additional cruise ships, which it will integrate into its fleet between 2014 and 2016. The new additions are expected to result in a 32,000 lower berth increase and a 16% increase in passenger capacity. In 2013 it enhanced its fleet with the debut of Princess Cruises’ 3,560-passenger Royal Princess and AIDA Cruises’ 2,194-passenger AIDAstella.
To fill its expanding inventory of passenger berths, Carnival continues to spend heavily on marketing its cruises, especially to consumers who have never taken to the high seas. While it relies on the traditional mediums, such as television and magazines, Carnival has been shifting its efforts from print media to online and social media, utilizing Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr, and Podcasts. Its goal is to engage in two-way conversations with consumers and create brand fans. Also, the company has expanded its number of home ports to put cruising possibilities closer to customers.
The cruise firm is counting on Europe, as well as Australia, New Zealand, Asia, and South America, for future growth, as it believes these markets are relatively untapped.