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Carnival Corp. reports final results of Alaskan summer

Europe struggled while Alaska filled ships with tourists

Posted: December 21, 2011 - 12:04am

Rising fuel prices drove down Carnival Cruise Line’s profits in the last quarter, even as its Alaska business remained strong, the company reported Tuesday.

Carnival is the parent company to Princess Cruises and Holland America Lines, as well as sailing ships under its own name. It is by far the largest cruise line operating in Alaska.

For the quarter ended Nov. 30, which includes the tail end of the popular summer cruise season, Carnival reported its revenue rose by half a billion dollars, to $3.7 billion.

That increase came from both higher ticket prices and more available capacity, but profits dropped as expenses, especially fuel, rose as well.

During the quarter, profits were $217 million, down from $248 million in the same quarter of 2010, as its fuel expense rose by $170 million, or 40 percent.

The company said its net revenue yields, the amount of profit it makes per ticket, rose in Alaska, where it had 24 percent of its capacity, as well as in the Caribbean and New England and trans-Atlantic routes.

European routes struggled, Carnival Corp. executives told industry analysts Tuesday.

The company’s occupancy levels — the number of passenger cabins filled — declined in Europe but stayed steady in Alaska and the Caribbean.

Carnival ships’ capacity rose a bit in Alaska as it “tweaked the itineraries” to bring more people to the state, said Carnival Chairman and CEO Micky Arison.

The European market, struggling with a debt crisis, was difficult during the quarter, he said.

That even included fewer Americans traveling to Europe, possibly put off by the crisis.

“Although you wouldn’t think it would affect their vacation decisions, I think the psychology of the consumer today is that there is a greater concern,” said Howard Frank, Carnival’s vice chairman and chief operating officer.

Carnival ended the year with profits of just over $1.9 billion, down a bit from last year. That’s despite fuel costs that rose by more than half a billion dollars during the year.

• Contact reporter Pat Forgey at 523-2250 or at patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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