Virtual currencies are not the only ones having a bad day, at least in USD-denominated terms (which for all those bullish BitCoin, or Gold, or Silver the fiat-alternative currency, not the asset, should make all the difference in the world – alas most people still don’t grasp the difference). Another entity that has seen better times is the terrifying accident-magnet also known Carnival Cruises. Following what seemed an endless barrage of TV crews scouring Carnival cruise ships, bringing a new definition to the term “poop deck”, the inevitable has finally happened: CCL has been forced to admit that absent changing something very drastically, it is doomed. And since it can’t or won’t afford to spend billions on CapEx to actually repair and modernize its assets (like virtually every other S&P500 company), it has done the only thing it can: crush prices, and pray to make up for this in volume and impulse purchases what it is about to lose in cruise revenues. As Bloomberg reports, in order to “entice” customers to come back to the good life, Carnival is now offering a cruise at the low, low price of $38 a night, or less than a stay at a Motel 8.
Carnival Corp. (CCL) is offering a Caribbean cruise for as little as $38 a night, less than a stay at Motel 6, after an engine fire on the Triumph stranded passengers at sea for several days.
A four-night trip on Carnival’s Imagination, leaving Miami on April 22, costs $149 a person, including meals and some beverages, according to the cruise company’s website yesterday. The lowest nightly rate at the budget-priced Motel 6 chain was $39.99, according to an online ad.
“The prices did go down,” said Manny Lubian, president of Futura Travel Inc. in Miami. “An empty ship doesn’t make as much money. They’d rather have bodies in them, buying drinks and spending money.”
Vance Gulliksen, a spokesman for the world’s largest cruise operator, declined to comment on pricing. The Imagination’s four-night itinerary includes stops in Key West, Florida, and Cozumel, Mexico, according to the website.
The week was expected to be slow, following spring break in the U.S. and tax season, Lubian said.
Immediately after the fire, cruises on the Triumph were offered as low as $319 a person for four nights, or $80 a night, after its return to service later this year. Today, the lowest advertised price for a five-night trip on the Triumph out of Galveston, Texas, with stops in Cozumel and the Yucatan, was $289, or $58 a night, for an Oct. 7 departure.
The $149 fare on the Imagination is nonrefundable and based on two travelers, according to the website. Government fees and taxes bring the total to $454 for two.
A slightly more morbid comparison indicates that it would cost US taxpayers half as much to put up incarcerated inmates on luxury cruise ships than to keep them detained in prison, which according to the Bureau of Justice spent $74 billion on corrections back in 2007 (one imagines the numbers os substantially higher now), to keep 2,419,241 inmates in federal, state and local lockup. This amounts to $84 per inmate per night, or about double what Carnival’s current going rate is.
In other words, US taxpayers would benefit if the prisoners from America’s overcrowded jails were merely transported to Carnival and other “luxury” cruiseliners. Yes, the number of guards would be substantially cut back and the administration would have fewer taxpayer purchased “government worker” votes going its way, but it would be a win-win for everyone else.
As for the prisoners stuck on a boat in the middle of the Ocean – just where would they escape to?