“We are going to propel this company forward,” said Josh Weinstein, president, chief executive officer and chief climate officer of Carnival Corporation, in an exclusive interview with Cruise Industry News.
“This company has had a fortress of a balance sheet and we are going to get that back. We will do that by driving revenue, minding our costs, generating free cash flow, and paying down our debt over time.”
Named chief operations officer for Carnival Corporation in 2020 and assuming his current position in August 2022, Weinstein said: “The biggest monumental task we faced was the world’s largest startup. We went from basically no guests and skeletal teams to carrying more than seven million guests last year and are now on our path to getting past the 10 million mark this year.”
At the same time, the overall fleet has emerged leaner and more efficient. Since 2019, Carnival has retired 26 ships and introduced 12 new ships.
“It is pretty fantastic where we are now versus before the pause. We have increased our capacity by 3 percent for 2023 versus 2019.
“When you look at the mix of our ships, because of all the actions we have taken, 25 percent of our fleet will have been delivered within the past three years,” Weinstein added.
“The new ships are more efficient to operate and more efficient on carbon intensity, driving down our carbon footprint, which is important for us. They are making our fleet 6 percent more efficient from an operating perspective and 9 percent in terms of fuel consumption as a result of the influx of new ships versus the outflow of older ships.
“And with bigger ships, we have more space onboard to provide more experiences, different experiences, more opportunities for us to generate onboard revenue in the process, and a better mix of balcony and premium cabins compared to the ships that exited.”
Meanwhile, Carnival also has its most moderate orderbook in many years.
“There are a few benefits that we see from having this profile,” Weinstein explained. “First of all, we are able to utilize more free cash to pay down debt over the next several years. And that will speed up the return of our financial fortress, so to speak. On top of that, I am a firm believer that all of our brands have a tremendous opportunity to effectively increase same store sales. And really keep optimizing what we are doing; the experiences we are providing onboard drive incremental demand for that smaller capacity footprint and will take our pricing up with it.”
The cruise industry has proven that it can do anything, according to Weinstein. “It saw itself through an unprecedented pause, where everybody was affected, but the cruise industry was affected more than most. And yet, it came through that.
“Now, we have the ability to take all of that creativity, ingenuity, nimbleness and agility that we used to react and respond, and create yet better experiences, create better opportunities and create more for this business.
“People lose sight of the fact that as much as we have grown, and as big as we are, we are only 2 percent of the vacation market. So, there is a lot of opportunity, a lot of growth before us.”