Carnival Cruises was started with one ship, Mardi Gras. On its first voyage, it ran aground off the Coast of Florida. Mardi Gras was on its way to the Caribbean with several hundred travel agents on board. Humble beginnings.
In 1972, Ted Arison and classmate, Meshulam Riklis, formed a partnership. Riklis owned the travel conglomerate, American International Travel Service (AITS), of which Carnival Cruise Line became a subsidiary. Carnival Cruise Lines purchased Empress of Canada, a $6.5 million ship, which was later named, Mardi Gras. In 1974, Arison bought Mashulam’s share of Carnival for $1, and assumed the $5 million debt.
Beginning of the Fun Ship
The Carnival marketing staff named Mardi Gras, the Fun Ship. Ted Arison revolutionized the cruise business by two things. First, saving fuel costs by slowing the fun ship’s cruising speed down. Second, calling on fewer ports of call resulted in more time at sea. The fun ship’s days at sea were filled with on board money-making activities such as casinos for gambling and nightclubs for alcoholic beverages.
The Love Boat Influences Cruising
In the 1970s, American travelers gained interest in cruising with the hit television series, The Love Boat. Between 1970 and 1986, the number of people cruising went from 500,000 to 2.1 million. By 1982, Carnival had four ships departing from Florida to the Caribbean: Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Festivale and Tropicale. Business, as part of the Love Boat influence, was booming and the number of berths went from 41,000 in 1981 to 84,000 in 1991. In 1979, Ted Arison’s 31-year-old son, Micky Arison, was named chief executive officer and president of the Carnival Corporation. In the 80s, Carnival added three very large ships: Holiday, Jubilee and Celebration bringing the total number to seven.
Successful Marketing Campaigns
In 1984, Carnival spent $10 million advertising for the Fun Ships, in successful marketing campaigns, during The Love Boat and network news programs. Travel agent incentives were also implemented. If the travel agent recommended a Carnival cruise, he or she could earn as much as $1,000 per cruise. Carnival paid out $500,000 for these incentives. Carnival addressed the younger market by offering shorter and lower-priced cruises, and air and sea packages, at 20 percent below other cruise lines. In 1988, MTV broadcast a Fourth of July party on a Carnival ship. As a result of the successful marketing campaigns, 30 percent of Carnival’s passengers were between the ages of 25 and 39.
Carnival Continues Adding Fun Ships
In 1987, Carnival added two new fun ships, Ecstasy and Fantasy. The next year, Carnival purchased Holland America with its four ships. Holland America’s itineraries cruised to the Alaska coast in the summer and the Eastern Caribbean in the winter. Carnival also acquired Windstar Sail Cruises and Holland America Westours. Windstar Sail Cruises included three large luxury sailing ships. With the acquisition of Westours, Carnival Corporation gained 18 hotels, 240 motor coaches, five dayboats, and eight glass-domed rail cars in the Canadian Northwest and Alaska.
In 1993, Carnival took delivery of the fun ship, Sensation and in 1994, Fascination. The following year, Carnival Corporation took delivery of a $330-million ship, the Imagination, and the 2,640-passenger Carnival Destinyfun ship made its maiden voyage in 1996. In 2010, Carnival Cruise Line has 23 ships in its fleet.
Lines Included in Carnival Corporation
As of June 2010, Carnival Corporation owns Cunard Line, Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Holland America Westours, Windstar Cruises, Costa Crociere, Seabourn Cruise Line, P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises, Ocean Village and Aida Cruises.
Latest from Carnival
Carnival Corporation’s cruise ships depart from 19 North American ports for destinations to Hawaii, Central America, the Caribbean, Canada/New England, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Alaska and Mexico, the Pacific Coast. Cruise itineraries are 3 to 16 days. In addition to the main dining room, other dining choices include steakhouses and sushi bars on specific ships. .Activity programs for children and teens are available. Health and wellness activities on board include spa treatments from Spa Carnival, exercise classes, fitness centers and steam and sauna rooms. Passengers enjoy on board fun with the dance clubs, wine bars, outdoor theaters, ice skating and water activities.
Carnival Corporation History
Cruise Lines International Association