Thursday, August 24, 2006

CCL's Arison on Alaskan Tax ...

Cold Shoulder: As expected, Carnival Corporation & plc takes a dark, chilly view of Alaska’s Ballot Initiative 2 potential impact, approved by state voters for 2007 implementation. Here's Carnival chairman Micky Arison's take: “We are disappointed that the Ballot Initiative 2 has passed as we believe this will inhibit the future growth and expansion of Alaska’s tourism business ... The estimates of the impact of these taxes are being made prior to our finalizing deployment, legal and other business decisions that will need to be considered as a result of this initiative.”

In other words, think again, Alaskans, the fat lady has yet to sing.

Carnival says it can't estimate impact the $50 per passenger head tax and other levies may have on Alaskan biz. The initiative includes a gaming tax on any wagering conducted within state waters as well as a state corporate income tax. Carnival estimates the gaming and income taxes could reduce 2007 earnings per share by about thee cents. The initiative also calls for cruise lines to reveal profits on shore excursions and any ad revenues earned from shoreside biz. CCL carries about 560,000 passengers annually in Alaska aboard 16 ships – eight from Holland America, seven from Princess, and one from Carnival. Carnival could take measures end up deploying fewer ships to Alaska, shutting down casino operations in Alaskan waters while retooling itineraries for more time in open waters, and wrapping shore excursions into cost of the cruise.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

'Welcome to Alaska ... Now Pay Us $50' ...

Still Counting: The Anchorage Daily News reports voters have narrowly approved a measure slapping a $50-per-passenger tax on cruise ships. It would raise $50 million in head taxes alone. The proposal had a slight lead in polls, despite a $1 million campaign to defeat. Besides the head tax, the cruise-ship measure would tighten environmental standards, levy a corporate income tax and a gambling-profits tax, and require disclosures by cruise ships of payments received for steering passengers to shoreside businesses the ships promote. Joe Geldhof, Juneau attorney, said “it's encouraging to see that the average Alaskan saw through the slick media campaign ... paid for with Miami money." He cautioned that the lead could change when all votes are counted. Holland America's John Shively, a vp leading defeat efforts, declined comment. Some voters said there's no reason ships should be exempt from paying corporate income tax, while others said the measure unfairly targets tourists. "It seems like 'Welcome to Alaska. Now pay us $50,' " said Walt Barber of Anchorage.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Joe's Take on Fun Ships ...

Ship Architect Does Videos: Carnival decor often generates wonderment over rooms such as Carnival Glory's Amber Palace show lounge or Carnival Pride's Starry Night Jazz Club (homage to Vincent Van Gogh's painting). Fun Ship guests can soon get the skinny on dozens of eye-popper public spaces through in-stateroom videos narrated by Joe Farcus, Carnival interior architect. They'll eventually roll on all 21 Fun Ships. Doing personalized tours of bars, lounges, and restaurants, Farcus reveals what inspired his often whimsical creations, and shares anecdotes. On Carnival Conquest, Farcus talks about flower bud stools in Henri’s Dance Club – a la French painter Henri Rousseau. Carnival Liberty passengers hear about oversized faux white-diamond necklaces at Harry’s, the ship’s supper club, inspired by designer Harry Winston. CCL has three ships on order: Carnival Freedom, set for February '07 debut; Carnival Splendor, debuting in fall '08, and a 130,000-ton SuperLiner – the largest "Fun Ship" ever – debuting in fall '09. For details, call (800) CARNIVAL

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Brrr... Alaskan Tax Looms

Proposal Nets Chill: Each spring, ships reposition from Florida to west coast ports for Alaskan itineraries starring glaciers and whales. Now Alaskan interests want more action, proposing a $50 head tax. The NorthWest CruiseShip Assoc. (with Florida-based powerhouses onboard) has forked out $1 million-plus to scuttle, noting that vendors and merchants as well as lines stand to lose. Soft Caribbean fares already have pummeled cruise stocks, and lines hold disdain for tinker-taxing lucrative Alaskan demand. (For perspective, Miami-Dade interests proposed slapping passengers with a head tax of about $10 per day a few years back, and proponents foolishly mentioned such a levy would nary be noticed, since it amounted to little more per diem than cost of an onboard libation. Promptly dubbed the Pina Colada Tax by savvy cruise marketers, the proposal drowned in its own juice. Cruise honchos led by CCL's Mickey Arison and RCCL's Richard Fain also made it clear their ships can reposition with comparative ease, well away from Miami to ports in Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral, Tampa, etc.) Alaska's vote comes Tuesday, Aug. 21. Stay tuned.