Carnival Corp (CCL) has called out the refugee crisis in Europe as a factor that is making its business there challenging.
On a conference call with Wall Street analysts on Tuesday, Carnival CEO Arnold Donald said the crisis, which has seen countless people trying to get to safety in Europe from the war-torn Middle East, has been a “headwind” making it hard to forecast demand for its cruises there and set prices accordingly for next year. The chief executive called it an “intense situation over there around the refugee situation that has affected all travel, not just cruise.”
The company, whose European brands include Costa Cruises (which carried 1.7 million passengers last year) and AIDA, has about 28% of its passenger capacity in Europe and the Mediterranean combined. It has been trying to build its business in an area of the world where cruising is still a much smaller portion of the travel industry than it is in North America and the Caribbean. Adding to the challenge, Carnival struggled for years with slower business in Europe after a Costa ship, the Concordia, ran aground in early 2012, killing 32 people.
“Overall, Continental Europe is probably more challenging,” CFO David Bernstein said on the call. “When you think about all the economic difficulties and the geopolitical issues, and the growing refugee concerns, that’s the are that has had most challenges in terms of pricing for 2016.”
The execs can take comfort that globally their business is doing nicely despite this: as of now, advance bookings for the first half of 2016 are “well ahead” of last year. the company said. Meanwhile, Europe deals with its worst humanitarian crisis in decades, with governments trying to figure out how to split 120,000 refugees among them.