Fathom, the new impact travel brand of Carnival Corporation & Plc group, has sailed into as perfect storm even before it has been able to commence operations. Unveiled with a great fanfare at an event in New York in June last year, the one-ship brand accounts for 3.2% of Carnival group's 220,000 lower bed capacity. However, its problems could carry more weight than that when it comes to negative publicity and absorption of management resources.
Fathom will operate the 710 berth Adonia, transferred from P&O Cruises in the UK, which will continue to manage the 2001 built 30,277 gross ton vessel. A planned first two week cruise that was due to sail on 18 April had to be cancelled as the ship failed to pass US Coast Guard's inspection.
Adonia is due to call in Cuba and this has been a key selling point of the new brand, However, it emerged that Cuban authorities would not allow passengers born in Cuba to travel on the vessel to their native land. Passengers travelling by air from the US do not face similar restrictions.
On 18 April, Carnival Corporation & plc issued a statement in which it said that it remained in talks with Cuban authorities to solve the issue. "We want everyone to be able to go to Cuba with us," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation & plc in the statement.
"While optimistic that Cuba will treat travelers with Fathom the same as air charters today, should that decision by Cuba be delayed past May 1, Carnival Corporation will delay the start of its voyages to Cuba accordingly," Carnival added.
In our opinion, the future of the new brand largely depends on the success of these talks. Should they fail or to be seriously prolonged, the ship would only call in the Dominican Republic, which would greatly reduce the brand's appeal. This outcome could release an angry backlash from those passengers that have booked on Adonia with an anticipation that the ship will take them to Cuba.
The Carnival group would survive such a storm, but it could occupy lots of management resources and result in lots of negative publicity, without which the brand, the group and the cruise industry could all be better off.
Deep problems in a small unit of a large organisation can result in problems far more significant that the weight of the troubled unit in that organisation: Greece accounts only for 2% of the euro zone GDP, yet problems with its economy have, from time to time, virtually paralysed the European Union that ultimately stands behind the single currency.
Odo Maritime Research, in cooperation with Cruise Business Review, will publish Global Ocean Cruise Market Analysis & Forecast 2016 in June.
This will be the second issue of the bi-annual report, which will study and analyse the recent development of the cruise industry in terms of fleet growth deployment of tonnage, various aspects of the newbuilding sector and the financial performance of the industry.
The pdf format report will comprise about 125 pages and feature a large number of graphs, charts and other visual forms of presentation of information, which makes it easier for readers to form a comprehensive picture of the industry than if lots of text had been used.
The price of the report will remain unchanged from two years ago, at £520, €650 or $860.