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Are cruise bookings down in wake of nightmare voyage?

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As I've said in previous posts, the failed cruise of the Carnival Triumph has had no effect on cruise bookings, just as the accident on the Costa Concordia hasn't. This was posted on the USAtoday website.........

The stories of misery that emanated from the disabled Carnival Triumph this month don't seem to be having much impact on America's appetite for cruising.

In a research report issued today, Wall Street analyst Tim Conder of Wells Fargo says the firm has detected no significant fallout on bookings from the widely publicized incident.

"Consistent with historical precedent following other ship incidents, our industry checks indicate that at this point ... there has been no impact on experienced cruise customer bookings/pricing patterns, and ... very minimal evidence that bookings/pricing among first-time cruisers has been impacted for any brand with the exception of the Carnival brand, (and) this to a limited degree," Conder writes.

Leading cruise-selling travel agencies also are reporting business-as-usual when it comes to cruise bookings. In a press conference in New York on Monday, the head of North America's largest travel agency group said cruise sales remain strong in the wake of the Carnival Triumph event.

"We were all very concerned, but, as of today, our business remains up," industry watcher Cruise Week quotes John Lovell, the president of the 5,100-member Vacation.com travel agency group, as saying.

More evidence that the Carnival Triumph incident isn't having a major impact on bookings also came this week from Carnival rival Royal Caribbean, which said in a regulatory filing that its booking outlook had not changed since its fourth quarter conference call on Feb. 4.

Longtime industry watcher Stewart Chiron, of CruiseGuy.com, says he isn't surprised by the lack of a bookings downturn. Would-be cruise customers generally view incidents such as the Carnival Triumph fire as outliers, he says.

"People are confident that cruising is safe and recognize these are machines and they do break down," Chiron tells USA TODAY, adding that he, too, sees the Carnival Triumph incident as an aberration. "Passengers on Triumph were uncomfortable but safe ... I'm confident lessons will be learned on prevention and response."

With bookings remaining strong, aggressive discounting of cruises in the coming months is unlikely, notes Conder.


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