Carnival Cruise Lines Today Tourism Essay

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This document is based on the Harvard Business Case study about Carnival Cruise Lines Applegate, Kwortnik, Piccoli, 2006. It is written as a master thesis for the Master of Information Management (MIM) studies by Christianne Aussems, Nathalie Claes, Eric Janssen and Corné van Schaik, under the supervision of Piet Ribbers, Professor of Information Management, all at TiasNimbas Business School in Tilburg.

1.1 About this report

This report describes the information management strategy for Carnival Cruise Lines (CCL) for the period 2007-2011. It proposes changes in organization, management, systems, and governance structure for CCL and describes the implementation plan, including prioritization and a costs and benefits analysis. The target audience of the report is Myles Cyr, CIO of Carnival Cruise Lines, and in addition for the strategic management level of CCL.

1.2 Assignment description | Aim and Scope


[Bob Dickinson informed the board about the goals for the next years. He wants Carnival Cruise Lines to stay the market leader and to improve the repeat guest rate. He is convinced that the potential value of customer data is growing. Therefore he is looking for a way to manage customer relationships more adequately. In the meeting he also mentioned the desire to reduce the gap between quality improvements and customer perceptions of the services.

Myles Cyr agrees on establishing a new sales strategy for the years to come and on the necessity to know the customers better. He wants to incorporate an overall vision on and evaluation of the information architecture and the existing information systems.

At this moment he and Dwayne Warner are thinking of starting the preparation an extensive revision (possibly a rebuild) of the shipboard systems (Property Management System and Point of Sale Systems) including the replacement of the Sail & Sign card (with magnetic strip) by a chip card in combination with the introduction of portable equipment based on the IP protocol.

Myles Cyr explicitly asks to elaborate on the opportunities of IS to contribute to the business and to the value chain. The board is expecting that the relative IT operating costs can be reduced in the next years. He expects an analysis and evaluation of the current state of IT/IS. What is good? What possible weaknesses are there? What problems have to be solved? Which improvements are opportune? He expects a balanced report containing your proposals to enhance the quality of data processing and information provisioning (including handling customer data). Carnival Cruise Lines can only resist and beat the market forces, if the company is innovative, acts agile and reacts fast and effectively to changes in the markets.]

[research questions->]

Topics to be incorporated in report:

-Existing bottle necks that have to be removed.

-Changes in organization, management, control concept and governance.

-Changes in systems, data processing and data provisioning.

-Change management process to meet the proposal.

-Implementation plan including prioritization.

-Risk assessment of the components of your advice.

-Improvement of security and risk management (especially privacy protection).

-Costs and benefits analysis of the proposed alternatives.

1.3 Structure

Beschrijven van fase naar fase Cindy

1.4 Approach

To gather extra information on IT in the cruising sector there was the opportunity to do qualitative research at another cruising organization being Royal Caribbean.

Gekozen voor andere maatschappij om huidige bedrijfsvoering niet te verstoren/verontrusten?

The research performed here was qualitative research trough semi structured interviews As described in the book… p467. For this research the entire IT executive team (see appendix) was found willing and able to participate.

Interview guides were created, for these interviews. These described the goals and topics of the interview and the questions to be asked. This gave the researchers a structure to ask the questions, not to forget important questions and not to get distracted from the goals of the interview. On the other hand this approach also gave flexibility to discuss unforeseen but relevant topics.

On forehand it was not clear for all the interviewees what their role and responsibilities where and what to ask them . This approach also gave the flexibility to start the interview with just a few questions but in the end having gathered a lot of information. Being able to interview more than 10 different IT executives in different roles and on different levels also gave an insight on important topics on that moment.

Interview guide interview minutes

For the execution of the interviews there was a clear division of the roles between the interviewers, there was one interviewer in the lead for asking the questions, one checking whether all the questions were asked and one making notes for the meeting minutes.



1.5 Constraints


Tool selectie reeds gedaan

2. Carnival Cruise Lines Today

Carnival Corporation & plc is a global cruise company and one of the largest vacation companies in the world. Carnival generates all of its revenues from the cruise industry. The companies wide-ranging product offerings provide guests with exceptional vacation experiences at an outstanding value. The success in providing quality cruise vacations has made Carnival the most profitable company in the leisure travel industry. Carnival's stock is dually listed on both the New York Stock Exchange and on the London Stock Exchange under symbol CCL. Carnival is the only company in the world to be included in both the S&P 500 index in the United States and the FTSE 100 index in the United Kingdom (Carnival Corporation & PLC, 2012).

Carnival Corporation operates a fleet of 100 ships, with another seven ships scheduled for delivery between now and March 2016. With approximately 200,000 guests and 77,000 shipboard employees, there are more than 277,000 people sailing aboard the Carnival fleet at any given time (Carnival Corporation & PLC, 2012).

For the purpose of our report it is crucial to understand how the Carnival Cruise Lines corporation works today. We need to understand how the various aspects of the business are set up and how they work together. Only after a true understanding of the current situation, we can come with proposals for improvement and indicate the impact on current ways of working.

In literature one can fine many models that can be used to look at an organization with an internal perspective. In appendix X we provide an overview of some management models we have found in literature, with an explanation why, when and how it should be used. Since our report needs to cover the implementation of a new IT management strategy, we have decided to use McKinsey's 7S model. This model, developed in the 1980's, involves 7 factors, which can be categorized as hard and soft elements. Hard elements can be identified and influenced more easily. They would be driven by the organization charts and reporting lines within the business and they may include the systems you use to get work done. Soft elements are, by their very nature, more difficult to manage and may be affected by the culture of the organization. But you have to apply yourself to these as much as the hard elements, as they provide the support structure for the successful implementation of any change, and they are all interdependent on each other.

Figure X 7S framework (McKinsey)

The hard elements in the 7S-model are Strategy, Structure and Systems; the soft elements are Style, Shared Values, Skills and Staff. In order to understand the 7S-model better a brief explanation is given below.

Hard elements:

Strategy - by using mission and vision the organization's objectives become clear.

Structure - how is the organization structured and which hierarchical layers are there

Systems - all formal and informal methods of operation, procedures and communication flows

Soft elements:

Style - this is about leadership and management styles

Shared values - the standards and values and other forms of ethics within an organization in which vision, corporate culture and identity are the key elements

Skills - these concern both the skills of the organization and those of the employees

Staff - this is about the employees, their competences and job descriptions

2.1 Strategy of CCL

The mission of Carnival Corporation is to take the world on vacation and deliver exceptional experiences through many of the world's best-known cruise brands that cater to a variety of different geographic regions and lifestyles, all at an outstanding value unrivaled on land or at sea (Carnival Corporation & PLC, 2012).

The vision statement of Carnival is the following: to consistently deliver fun, memorable vacations at a repeat value.

Derived from this mission and vision, Carnival Cruise Lines has set up the following strategic objectives:

to be the leading cruise operator in all segments entered and to maintain the most up-to-date fleet of cruise ships in the world

to develop new cruise segments and innovative cruise packages to reach a larger number of potential and past cruisers

employ sophisticated promotional efforts to achieve a greater awareness by the public concerning the availability and afford ability of cruise travel

attract the first-time and younger cruisers (Carnival), experienced cruisers (Holland America), upscale cruisers(Seaborne), and cruisers wanting a sailing vacation (Windstar)

promote cruises as an alternative to land-based vacations

provide a variety of activities as well as ports of call

be innovative in all respects of operations of the ship. BRON

Dominant market share

Carnival's biggest strength is its huge scale and scope. It is twice as large as its biggest competitor and competes in nearly every market and segment worldwide. This gives Carnival enormous power over the cruise industry as a whole. It enables the company to undertake projects that grow the industry, gives it a platform for continued mergers and acquisitions activity, and helps Carnival negotiate with major manufacturers of cruise ships (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

Strong acquisition strategy

Carnival has the ability to obtain companies through acquisitions. By using an acquisition strategy, the Corporation has been able to position itself in each geographical market in the world and rank itself as number one in the cruising sector.

Comprehensive portfolio

The corporation has a large fleet capacity and operates 11 of the most recognizable cruise brand names. Carnival's portfolio of brand names appeals to almost every niche market, from budget minded, contemporary to luxury cruises. Each cruise line operates globally and is targeted at one or more nationalities (see Appendix X).

2.2 Structure of CCL

Carnival Corporation & plc has two main headquarters, Carnival Place in the US and Carnival House in the UK. The constituent Corporation and plc are separate listed companies with different shareholder bodies, but they jointly own all the operating companies in the group. Carnival Corporation owns the majority stake. As part of the merger between Carnival Corporation and P&O Princess Cruises in 2002, it was agreed that P&O Princess would be relisted as Carnival plc in London, remaining a separate company with a predominantly British shareholder body. Both headquarters have their own management team, strategy, and IT organization.

Uncoordinated business operations

Historically, Carnival has been run by the Arison family as a coalition of largely independent businesses. Each cruise line largely manages its own customers, marketing, distribution, sales, ports, and logistics. This approach has had benefits: internal competition means that each line operates better than any would in isolation. The business operations of the cruise lines are not centrally managed. Better coordination of these business operations could generate additional benefits for Carnival (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

Strong financial position

Carnival is one of the most profitable cruising companies. The company's average net income (FY2005 to FY2009) amounted to 18.1% compared to the industry standard of 6.3% (Marketingteacher, 2012). The firm is dual listed on the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange under the symbol CCL. Since the company is dual listed, it has the ability to raise more funds from investor than its competitors. With this also come greater stability due to different markets being affected by different economic occurrences, political issues, and society's views (Corporate information, 2006).

Decreasing profit

The profit of Carnival has diminished over the last years. The net profit was $1,790 million in FY2009, a decrease of 23.2% as compared to 2008. Another weakness is that Carnival reports their financial statements in dollars. About half of their revenue is generated in a non-US currency, but is reported in terms of US dollars. The value of the dollar against Euro appreciated from 1.60 in January 2010 to 1.53 by April 2010 against the Pound. If the dollar strengthens it would record a lower revenue than is actually earned (Marketingteacher, 2012).

Clear focus cost leadership

Carnival Cruise Lines has a clear focus on Cost Leadership, i.e. CCL offers its product to the mass market. Therefore the highest focus is put on the price and keeping the price as low as possible. Once the customer is on board the ship, additional revenue is created by having the customer pay for everything that was not covered in the base price. Carnival is such a large company that it has significant cost advantages over most of its competitors.

Strong marketing

Carnival invests explicitly and effectively in print and television media. Their promotions target the lifestyles of each group of customers (Marketingteacher, 2012).

Over-dependence on US market

Carnival derives a majority of its revenue (nearly 52%) from US customers. In 2009 the revenue from the North American market registered a double digit decline. The over-dependence on the US market makes Carnival vulnerable to the economic fluctuations of the American economy and this company is dependent on customers' disposable income] (Marketingteacher, 2012).

Poor safety record

There is no public database of major cruise accidents, but Carnival has a notably worse safety record than other cruise companies. The Costa Concordia tragedy has been the most recent in Carnival's safety woes.

The Center for Disease Control does track all major viral outbreaks on cruise lines. In the 2009-2011 period, Carnival-owned companies accounted for 56% of all viral outbreaks, compared to a 48% average market share. The company is also thought to have a worse safety record for persons lost at sea, especially in the Carnival brand: of the 179 disappearances since 2000, Carnival Cruise Line alone accounts for nearly 30% of them (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

Incidents/Bad press

In 2009, Carnival experienced bad press when three passengers fell off ships in a three week period. There were a total of 22 incidents of passengers falling overboard in 2009. In December 2008, passengers on the Carnival owned Oceania cruise ship were attacked by Somali pirates. Such events reflect negatively on the company and the industry.

2.3 Systems in CCL

Within Carnival Cruise Lines every brand is seen as a separate business unit, with its own profit and loss statement.

Decentralized systems

This decentralization translates into a decentralization of systems as well. Decisions aren't always communicated from the one cruise line to the other, which leads to duplication of effort. This decentralization of the business organization translates to the IT organization as well. Every brand has its own IT department with own systems and infrastructure.

Legacy systems

There are many legacy systems, since there aren't many players in the cruising sector, most of the strategic important applications are custom made. This leads to a spaghetti landscape in which integration is very difficult and which affects the speed to market significantly.

No integrated CRM system

Carnival doesn't use an integrated CRM system for the whole corporation. Customers from the one cruise line aren't recognized as a repeat customer with a different cruise line within the group, this has an immediate effect on the pricing for repeat customers.

The yearly capital planning of investments is done on US and UK Headquarter level as well as on the different cruise line level. This will most likely lead to lack on synchronization and duplication of costs and efforts.

2.4 Style within CCL

The leadership style at Carnival Cruise Lines can be called family-like. People with the right skills are hired and are giving the support and room to do their jobs correctly. This family-like leadership style is a management style that Ted Arison already used when he was still steering the company. Ted Arison had a non-hierarchical approach to management, meaning that he delegated a lot of work downwards in the organization, allowing him to oversee the bigger picture.

People are encouraged to be hands-on and take calculated risks. Taking risks also means that mistakes can occur, however Carnival uses a no blame culture through which people feel empowered (Managementparadise, 2012).

Carnival has a separate training and development department set up in the organization. The corporation invests heavily in coaching of high potentials by giving them learning opportunities that are fit for their personal needs.

2.5 Shared values of CCL

Derived from the mission and vision of Carnival (see 2.1.1) the company has set some company values that wear a high priority. These values are: Honesty, integrity, fairness, hospitality and teamwork. The values are deemed important to do their job in a correct manner.

Carnival, as all other cruise lines in the industry, takes much proud in the focus they put on the environment. They invest heavily in health and safety, both for customers and for employees. There is a very strong focus on the environment and to work in a greener way. Charity is also one of the key components of their social responsibility strategy.

2.6 Skills at CCL

Working in the leisure industry requires some specific skills that you cannot always learn. Most important skills that someone working in the leisure industry would need, are the following:

Customer focused


Team work

Stress resistant


Service orientation

Multi linguistic

Since Carnival Cruise Lines wants to be seen as the cruise line that delivers fun, the attitude of the employees is very important as well. The employees need to be cheerful and enthusiastic.

2.7 Staff at CCL

Cruise ships typically operate with three classes of crew. The first is the officers: these professionals are highly paid and given ultimate command of the ship. The second is entertainers and wait staff: typically lower-paid, but from the same countries as the cruisers that they serve. Finally, most of the ships' crew is drawn from developing countries. While pay is low, the salary can represent an attractive opportunity for these workers, who often work 10-month contracts without being able to see their homes and families. Turnover is high, and few of the crew see working on a cruise ship as a viable long-term career. Staff remains 24/7 on board of the ship, have their own cabins at the lowest two decks of the ship. Only officers are allowed to mix between guests, this at special occasions and in formal attire. Other crew members have dedicated times during which they can be present on guest decks.

Operational excellence & experience

Carnival has achieved below-industry-average costs and above-average revenue historically. This is largely due to the company's immense experience in owning and operating cruises, as well as some smart strategic plays. That advantage makes expanding into new markets vastly easier for Carnival than for a smaller player or upstart firm.

Carnival has the largest pool of data to draw on to determine what does and does not work and has the most experienced marketers of cruises in the world. These 'soft' advantages let Carnival potentially segment its customers more efficiently than competitors (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

3. Carnival Cruise Lines Competitive Position

5 forces model of Porter (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011)

According to Michael Porter, the state of competition in an industry depends on five basic forces (Porter, 1980). These forces are: Bargaining Power of Suppliers, Bargaining Power of Buyers, Threat of New Entrants, Threat of Substitutes, and Rivalry among Competitors. The collective strength of these combined forces determines the ultimate profit potential of an industry. The following paragraphs are based on Levin et al. (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011) and interviews at Royal Caribbean.

3.1 Bargaining power of suppliers

Supplier Power within the cruise line industry is moderately strong. Most of a cruise ship's supplies are bought on an open, competitive market. The threat of integration by these suppliers is very low. One notable exception is Carnival's new builds. There are only 6 major shipyards that have recently built cruise ships, and 2-3 more that either perform conversions or have built ships before 2000. Capacity and capability at these main builders is also limited, so Carnival Corporation relies on a limited number of manufacturers for its new builds. The high supplier power within the shipbuilding is weakened because the relationship is symmetrical: cruising is a similarly concentrated market. Additionally, the massive purchase value of a new ship provides a sizeable incentive for ship suppliers to provide cruise liners with competitive pricing.

Additionally, cruise ship companies such as Carnival face extensive switching costs, both in building and running a ship. Switching a ship's manufacturer is hugely expensive for cruise companies because, typically, the shipbuilder owns the right over a ship's design, which means that, in switching shipbuilders, cruise line companies have to incur high monetary and time costs in redesigning the ship. Such a switch can cost the cruise line company millions of dollars. Further, there is high input differentiation between ships, meaning that, while there are alternatives for the majority of supply components (both in ship construction and in cruise service), the cruise ship company markets specific ships and amenities to the consumer, thereby increasing switching costs and supplier power.

3.2 Bargaining power of buyers

Buyer power within the cruise line industry is relatively low. By contrast to most other vacations, more than two thirds of cruises are still booked through travel agents. Further, customers are spread around the world and do not have any mechanisms through which they can express a collective voice or exert collective power, leaving them with minimal control. Additionally, customers do not have the ability or resources to create the cruise experience by themselves - it is, by nature, a highly packaged deal. In addition, the experience offered by a cruise is very unique, and differs from other types of vacations enough that customers who prefer cruises are likely to choose them over other types of vacations, so long as the cost is not a substantial barrier. Buyer power is increased by internet search engines which enable comparisons of price and specifications across multiple locations, brands, and companies. In addition, the continued high reliance on travel agencies increases buyer power because travel agencies make volume purchases and can demand lower prices based on the volume of customers they refer to specific companies.

3.3 Threat of new entrants

The risk of entry of new competitors to the cruise line industry that could provide a plausible threat to Carnival Corporation in core markets is low. Entry into the high-end cruise line industry requires capital of approximately $1 billion since it costs, on average, $400 million to build a ship. Further, large cruise ships employ hundreds of sailors and crew that are trained for sea duty, which creates an additional cost. Since brand recognition is very important in the cruise line industry, it would take a new competitor valuable time to build an identity and reputation in order to be able to compete with the incumbents. Lastly, there are strict government and international regulations that are involved with a cruise company. Obtaining proper permits to operate, as well as the political connections, would also cost a company a large amount of time and resources. In Asia, however, Carnival might be more concerned about new entrants. Asian operations, markets, and customers are much less defined than in the Americas or Europe, and expectations of cruise quality and scale are lower. There are numerous Asian entrepreneurs and companies that might be able to tap into this fast-growing market.

3.4 Threat of substitutes

There are many substitutes, such as all inclusive, Club Med, and alternative vacation packages. However, market research indicates that cruise lines provide higher customer satisfaction than land based vacation packages. Cruisers express an overall 94.8% satisfaction rate with their experiences. Any vacation can be substituted for, and there is not a high cost to change, which makes the threat of substitution seem very high. This trend has fueled the continuing evolution of the cruise vacation experience. Over the years, cruise lines have expanded itineraries to include more diverse ports of call and have introduced innovative onboard amenities and facilities to compete with land based travel. These onboard experiences include cell phone access, Internet cafes and Wi-Fi zones which allow passengers to feel as if they are connected on land. They have also added onboard experiences such as rock-climbing, bowling alleys, surfing pools, multi-room villas, multiple themed restaurants and expansive spas, health and fitness facilities that easily rival land-based options (CLIA, 2012) Although there are many substitutes to the cruise line industry, they cannot replicate the cruise line experience.

3.5 Rivalry of competitors

Carnival is the leading company within the cruise line industry due to its multiple fleets and significant international presence. There are significant barriers to entry and exit within the cruise line industry, which has resulted in a high concentration ratio. The cruise line industry is effectively an oligopoly market, where several major cruise liners make up more than 90% of the market shares. Carnival is constantly engaged in marketing and pricing battles with these competitors, making internal rivalry central to the industry. Additionally, cruise lines have historically been subject to heavy mergers & acquisitions activity, and Carnival sometimes competes to acquire even more share.

Overall, Carnival's branding is strong within the industry, and even stronger within its market category (contemporary). When compared to its competitors, Carnival continues to remain a formidable force in the cruise industry.

Figure X: 5 forces model for Carnival Cruise Lines

4. Cruise Industry Developments

We will use a PESTEL analysis to provide the context of the cruising industry as a whole, in order to understand the organization's role in relation to the external environment. The PESTEL analysis provides a context for the organization's role in relation to the external environment. The PESTEL analysis technique is often used in conjunction with a SWOT analysis to assess the situation of a business. PESTEL covers Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Legal and Environmental factors. The analysis consists in carefully determining all factors and finding out exactly in what way and to what extent these factors influence the company. Each category of factors is of crucial importance to advanced strategic management (Marketingminefield, 2012).

Figure 2 gives an overview of PESTEL factors for the Cruise Industry. The PESTEL analysis is further explained in the following sections of this chapter.




Growing market in Asia

Multiple trade organizations and lobbyist:

-Cruise Lines International Association

-Florida-Caribbean Cruise Association (trade organization)

-International Council of Cruise Lines; Cruise industry lobbyist

-North West & Canada Cruise Association (trade organization for Hawaii and Pacific North West)

-Passenger ship Association

-International Maritime organization (IMO) part of the United Nations


Profitable business; cruisers spend typically more on vacation then non cruisers

Pricing based on data analysis

Big market share to capture; cruising industry is the fastest growing branch of the total leisure industry


Global economic recession

Decrease in growth for South of Europe due to bad economy

High fuel prices


Geopolitical instability

-Terrorism actions

Tax loopholes




Strongly favorable Demographics

Changing consumer trends: more focus on health, spa arrangements, more diversity in dining and other selling points

Changing role of travel agent

Number of online bookings is increasing and increasing more every year


Changing consumer trends: Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), connectivity

Technological development in satellite communication:

-State of the art technology possibilities on the ship

-Higher connectivity on the ship


Due to the exploding market in Asia, systems need to be set up in Chinese characters. This is a challenge for most systems

Outsourcing level 2 &b 3 support is difficult because the knowledge is very specific


Overblown media attention when something happens on a cruise ship




Events in the outside world (9/11, Costa Concordia crash and Ash cloud Iceland)


Complex diversity of environmental, health and safety legislation

Figure X: PESTEL analysis Cruise Industry

4.1 Political Factors

Political factors represent the way and extent to which a government influences the economy and the business. Specific areas are: labor law, tax policy, tariffs, trade restrictions and environmental law.

Geopolitical Instability

[In 2011, the Arab Spring revolutions caused significant upheaval across the Eastern Mediterranean. While laudable from a democratic perspective, these types of disruption also tend to shut down cruises. While the Eastern Mediterranean is a relatively small market, Carnival must watch for future threats and react appropriately. Obviously, most geopolitical threats are unavoidable from Carnival's perspective. However, most cruisers are not wedded to a specific destination. If Carnival is prepared to pivot quickly from one region to another, then the losses from these cruises can be minimized. ] (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011)

This growing geopolitical instability increases throughout the whole leisure and cruising industry an increased fear for terrorist attacks. The threat of terrorism and pirates overtaking cruise ships is a concern for companies in this industry, and also negatively affect consumers' perceptions of cruising (Marketingteacher, 2012).

Growing Asian Market

While the revenue for cruises has declined in the US, it is growing in Europe and Asia, leading to more opportunities for Cruise Lines to expand in these regions (Marketingteacher, 2012). Asian customers accounted for only 9.8% of global cruise revenues in 2010. However, this market segment grew by almost 40%, driven by a new, affluent class and aging demographics across the Asia-Pacific region. If properly tapped, Asia could be as important a market as North America for Carnival within the next 10-20 years (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011). Customers in Asia are now looking for luxurious cruises as a vacation option. Disposable income of the Chinese consumer has grown annually by 10% a year. The total number of passengers sourced from China increased approximately 74% in 2009 (Marketingteacher, 2012).

From a technological point the growing Asian market puts the system developers for a challenge. Most systems within Carnival are legacy systems, developed when Carnival was only looking at the US market. Carnival had never envisioned stepping into the Asian market at the moment of system development, so the systems aren't set up to cope with the Chinese characters.

Trade organizations

There are many trade organizations active in the cruise industry. Mostly these trade organizations are focused on one market and they promote actively the cruising experience in that area.

Tax Loopholes

Carnival has been taking advantage of special tax loopholes to avoid paying US corporation taxes. In 2009 the US government decided to look at closing those loopholes. If these loopholes are closed, it could affect their financial statements and fiscal bottom line in the future (Marketingteacher, 2012).

4.2 Economic Factors

Economic factors refer to areas unique to economy and directly influenced by economy or comprised by economy, areas such as inflation rate, interest rate, economic growth or exchange rates. All areas can greatly influence a business, which makes them an extremely important part of the PESTEL analysis.

Global economic recession

Global economic recession. Decrease in growth for South of Europe due to bad economy.

Still big market share to capture

The cruise industry has grown considerably in the past 10 years but still occupies a very small proportion of the global vacation market. Cruise lines accounted for only 4.5% of the $542.2 billion worth of the travel industry in 2009. While the revenue for cruises has declined in the US, it is growing in Europe and Asia, leading to more opportunities for Carnival to expand in these regions. (Marketingteacher, 2012)

There is still a big market share to capture; only 23% of Americans has ever booked a cruise (Interview ….). There is a strong consumer demand in Europe (Carnival Cruise Lines, 2012).

Pricing based on data analysis (Interview Patrick Manuel)

Changing role of travel agents

Carnival Cruise Lines makes extensive use of travel agents. In their overall value chain the role of this intermediary takes a crucial role. In literature an intermediary is described as 'an economic agent that buys from suppliers in order to resell to customers, or that helps consumers and suppliers to meet and transact' (Spulber, 1996). Based on this definition, we can distinguish 2 kinds of intermediaries:

Transactional intermediaries: those who move, store and deliver physical goods

Infomediaries: those who provide information and information services, usually relating to those physical goods and services (Papazoglou & Ribbers, 2006).

In the case of the cruising industry we can clearly define the travel agents as infomediaries. The travel agent helps the customer to book a cruise, by providing him all relevant information and different options that are available.

Due to the rise of Internet Sarkar et al. (Sarkar, Butler, & Steinfeld, 1996) mention the Threatened Intermediaries Hypothesis (TIH), this hypothesis talks about the bypass of intermediaries in the value chain. The hypothesis argues that online consumers will interact directly with online suppliers, making the role of intermediaries redundant. However this hypothesis has also been questioned by other researchers, who argue that this hypothesis is far too simple (Schmitz, 2000). These researchers point out 3 services that intermediaries provide, that are often neglected in research: inventory holding for immediacy service purposes, reducing information asymmetry; and gathering, organizing and evaluating dispersed information. During our research and interviews it became clear, that the role of the travel agents, especially in the cruising industry is focused on reducing information asymmetry and gathering, organizing and evaluating dispersed information. The product that is being sold, i.e. the cruise, is just too complex for most people to book the whole cruise themselves. The travel agent is important in explaining the 38 different room types on board, different dining experiences, etc. Though online booking increases every year, this is mostly done for the 'vanilla' cruises; 2 or 3 days with limited options. For all other types of cruises the role of the travel agent remains crucial in the process.

Fuel Price Risk

Of all the issues facing the cruise industry today, rising fuel prices and the need to become more environmentally friendly are perhaps the most pressing. For operators, increasingly expensive fuel has had a negative impact on operating costs. Increasingly strict environmental regulations have made the need to start using cleaner forms of fuel an urgent matter, but making the switch can be a costly business that could send fuel prices soaring (Adams, 2011). Recently Carnival and other cruising companies have imposed modest 'fuel surcharge fees'. These fees often are not apparent until quite late in the cruise booking process, so these surcharges upset relatively few customers and add some extra revenue (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

4.3 Social Factors

Social factors mainly refer to demographic factors, which comprise factors like population growth rate, cultural aspects, age distribution and health consciousness.

Strongly favorable demographics

Demographic shifts will shape the future. Critical issues and trends deserve attention.

In the cruise industry, the under-65's are considered 'the young set'. As populations across Europe and North America age, Carnival's target market is growing larger. Carnival is already well positioned to take advantage of this trend: its branding, segments, and market share make it the best-positioned cruise line overall (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011). Trends are shifting in the cruising industry towards the 45-60 year old age group. As this age group grows in population, Carnival can take advantage of the economies of scale and offer them the best prices (Marketingteacher, 2012).

4.4 Technological Factors

Technological factors refer to automation, incentives, the rate of technological change and R&D activity. These factors greatly influence other areas or aspects, including the minimum efficient production level, quality, costs, and outsourcing decisions.

Technology, and more specific Information Technology, can and must play an important role in cruising industry reform. An interesting overview of areas where information systems can help CI can be found in a report prepared for…

The idea of connectivity nowadays

Based on a 2012 McKinsey survey, 'Minding your Digital Business', half of the executives responding view investments in digital technology as building a competitive advantage in their business. Forming this digital edge requires new thinking and a new approach to access customer value and make revenue and results addressable to the organization.

Royal Caribbean cruise lines sought that edge when it was building the Oasis-class ships (The digital Edge), On these large oversized ships Royal Caribbean wanted to make sure that every guest could enjoy a personalized experience while being on a massive ship with thousands of other customers. First step was setting a clear and unambiguous outcome - eliminating the need for lines on board. A multi-disciplinary team was put together to identify the bottlenecks in the process.

When passengers check in their photos are taken and routed to a digital profile that forms the basis for digital support of their experience on board. The cruise line provides a smart card for onboard activities and purchases. The smart cards, combined with their digital photo facilitate on- and off boarding of the ship as customers swipe their smart cards and have their digital picture verified by the quartermaster.

Once on board the ship, digital technologies give passengers greater direct control of their own experiences via smart phone apps and digital signage. Instead of telling guests where they can eat, Royal Caribbean captures each of the 24 restaurants' capacity information in real time via shape-sensing camera's. This information can be found on various locations on the ship.

4.5 Environmental Factors

Environmental factors refer to all factors directly related, influenced or determined by the surrounding environment. This includes, but is not limited to weather, climate, geographical position, climate change and even insurance. Environmental factors can greatly influence a company's way to operate.

Strong dependency on events in the outside world

The cruise industry can be highly impacted by events in the outside world, such as 9/11, Costa Concordia crash, and the ash cloud above Iceland. These large, visible accidents generate huge negative publicity, hurting the cruise industry as a whole.

Lower-profile problems can also have significant impacts. Two such problems are viral outbreaks and persons lost at sea. Viral outbreaks typically necessitate the return of a ship to home port, a burst of negative publicity in newspapers, television, and industry blogs, and refunding many passengers. Overboard incidents' have effects that are harder to predict: the company is often faced with lawsuits and negative news stories (Levin, Jones, & Slade, 2011).

4.6 Legal Factors

Legal factors refer to all the laws directly connected to a business and its area of activity, including consumer law, antitrust law, discrimination law and health and safety law.

Complex diversity of international and federal codes and regulations

The cruise line industry must abide with a complex diversity of international and federal codes and regulations. All ships visiting ports, regardless of where they are flagged, must comply with all applicable federal regulations. In the US for example, they have 'the responsibility for ensuring that these ships meet all international conventions and domestic requirements for safety, security and environmental protection' (USCG, 2012).

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) serves as a non-governmental consultative organization to the International Maritime Organization (IMO), an agency of the United Nations. The IMO mandates global regulations for the safety and operation of cruise ships. The international Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) includes comprehensive information on safety equipment and procedures.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS), a broad set of security requirements for ships and port facilities, was added as an amendment to SOLAS after the September 11, 2001 attacks. Compliance with SOLAS standards and other internationally recognized conventions is monitored by both the ship's flag and port state representatives, which is the US Coast Guard in the US.

The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act contains some new provisions and clarifies other existing CLIA policies, such as how the cruise lines report allegations of crime to the US government.

In addition to announced and unannounced safety inspections, the US Coast Guard annually conducts a Control Verification Certificate examination for every cruise ship that ports in the US for compliance with both federal and international regulations (Cruiseindustryfacts, 2012).

With products as Electronic Health Records and medical billing services, the Cruise Industry has to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the primary law that establishes the US legal framework for health information privacy (US Department of Health & Human Services, 1996).

5. Carnival Cruise Lines SWOT Analysis

When we combine the 3 models as discussed in chapters 2, 3, and 4, we can derive strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities (SWOT) for Carnival Cruise Lines. The below picture indicates conceptually how we have used the 3 different models to ultimately derive the specific SWOT analysis of Carnival Cruise Lines.

Figure X: Combination of 5 forces model, 7-S model and PESTEL analysis

The information of the 5forces model of Porter gives input to all 4 areas of the SWOT analysis. The information of the 7S model gives input, since it's mainly focusing on the internal set up of the organization, to the strengths and weaknesses of Carnival Cruise Lines. Lastly, the PESTEL analysis gives input to the opportunities and threats to the organization. As already mentioned in chapter 3, gives the PESTEL analysis a more in depth insight what external forces can have an influence on the cruise industry as a whole and Carnival Cruise Lines in specific.

Concluding, figure X shows the specific strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of Carnival Cruise Lines. This SWOT is the synthesis of all the information provided in chapter 2, 3 and 4.



IT is incorporated in the company results

Focus on core processes

Increased internet capacity on the ships

Consumer outreach program can lead to economies of scale versus travel agents

Loyalty programs are in place

Strong security governance, good frameworks, security is embedded in all other processes

Talent development programs in place

Family-like management style

Easy to do business with (from travel agent perspective)

Strong acquisition strategy

Dominant market share

Operational excellence and experience

Comprehensive portfolio

Strong financial position

Promote lifestyle of each target group

Decentralization of business operations

Lack of end to end overview of the project portfolio

No prioritization process in place

No Total Cost of Ownership in place for IT

Weak resource management

Complex product which has an impact on online ordering and need for good relation with travel agents

Legacy systems

No benefits tracking in place

Poor safety record

Over-dependence on the US Market

No integrated CRM system



Growing Asian market

Benchmarking is difficult within the sector

Technological developments in satellite connection

Role of travel agents is changing

Number of online bookings is increasing and increasing more every year

Still big market share to capture; only 23% of US population has ever taken a cruise

Pricing based on data analysis

Profitable business

Strongly favorable demographics

Complex diversity of environmental, health and safety legislation

Multiple trade organizations are in place

Changing consumer trends, both social and technological

Technological development in satellite communication

Increasing fuel prices

Floating hotel with independent IT

Changing consumer demands, i.e. BYOD, connectivity)

Strong dependency on events in the outside world (9/11, Costa crash, ash cloud above Iceland)

Compliance to a complex diversity of laws and regulations (global company)

Competing with the whole leisure industry which results in different challenge and higher cost for IT

Strongly competitive industry

Speed of technological changes

Outsourcing level 2 & 3 support difficult because of very specific knowledge

Decreasing profit

Hugh cash outflow

High fuel prices

Geopolitical instability

Tax loopholes

Global economic recession

Overblown media attention when something happens on a cruise ship

Due to the exploding market in Asia, systems need to be set up in Chinese characters. This is a challenge for most systems

Figure X: SWOT analysis of Carnival Cruise Lines

Based on this SWOT we can conclude that Carnival Cruise Lines is active in a very competitive environment. The need for cost awareness combined with continuous innovation in order to deliver the customer experience in crucial. In the following chapter we will go deeper into the strategic IT choices we think Carnival Cruise Lines should take to keep their dominant space in the market, or even grow their market share.

6. Strategy Analysis

Difficult decisions have to be made. Should CCL continue managing technology platforms with a decentralized approach, in which each CLL brand name chose its own IT platforms and had the autonomy to run them? Or should CCL take a mixed approach, in which the same standard applications would run throughout the enterprise but would be managed independently by Headquarters in US and UK offices? Or should CCL espouse a "one-firm" approach and boldly shoot for a centralized implementation of its most critical systems (HCM and financial statements), with all its offices interconnected on the same "instance" of a software platform?

6.1 Cruise Industry drivers

In order to understand how Carnival Cruise Lines can leverage their threats and weaknesses and turn them around into strengths and opportunities, we need to take a closer look at the value chain of Carnival Cruise Lines. The idea of a value chain was first suggested by Michael Porter (Porter, 1980) to depict how customer value accumulates along a chain of activities that lead to an end product or service. Porter describes two major categories of business activities: primary activities and support activities. Primary activities are directly involved in transforming inputs into outputs and in delivery and after-sales support. Support activities support primary activities and other support activities.

Despite the fact that Carnival Cruise Lines serves different markets with different customer preferences, Carnival does not need to alter its value chain to please different customer segments. Each cruise line brand is able to add value by offering the same brand experience with slightly different price points and cruise line experience offerings. The value chain, shown in Figure X, is focused on giving customers high quality vacation packages, a wide variety of vacationing options and a delightful overall cruise vacation experience.

Figure X: Porter's value chain for Carnival Cruise Lines

Based on our analysis and in-depth interviews with cruise industry experts we found that there are 4 main drivers that define the cruise industry: speed to market, consumer demands, customer management and cost management. Based on Carnival Cruise Lines mission, vision, values and business model we identified 4 strategic focus areas from the technology perspective that will direct the information management strategy for 2007-2011 for Carnival Cruise Lines.

The direction and objectives with regard to the strategic focus are defined in strategic intentions. These strategic intentions define improvements of Carnival Cruise Lines' strategic and operational effectiveness from a technology point of view.

6.2 Strategic Intentions


Speed to market

For Carnival Cruise Lines it is crucial to deliver their customer offerings swiftly to the market, especially in the highly competitive market they are in. In order to keep their strategic dominant position in the market, they need to be able to deliver their offerings before the competition. This requires from IT that they can quickly operationalize the business demand. To enable this, the IT infrastructure will need to support working across functional and organizational boundaries in the most effective way.

Customer Relationship Management

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) can be seen as a process in which in-depth analysis of customer behavior and knowledge about the customer habits, desires and needs are managed. For Carnival Cruise Lines it will be important to increase the focus on return customers, since at this moment most customers are first time cruisers. In addition to Customer Relationship management, a CRM system would help to recognize and anticipate on customer's needs. Such a system will help to:

Identify high-end customers

The CRM system can analyze customers spend behavior on board and determine which customers spend the most money. Carnival Cruise Lines would then be able to set up specific actions to attract those customers

Set up loyalty programs

The CRM system would be able to recognize return customers. With the help of a Loyalty program these repeat customers could be rewarded for cruising with Carnival again (e.g. better cabin, beverages for free,…) These loyalty programs would be going across all the cruise lines

Manage complaints

For each customer complaints could be gathered and analysis would be performed to identify the root-cause of the issue. Solutions would be captured as well.

Cost management

Carnival Cruise Lines has a strong focus on controlling costs. Building cruise ships is a very expensive venture, and needs to go hand in hand with a proper planning. Besides the building of the ships, there are many other projects ongoing on a yearly basis that should deliver a better customer experience. As in any other organization, there are only limited funds and resources available to deliver the multitude of projects, therefore a portfolio management and prioritization process should be set in place. This process will drive the decision making and will maximize the value per dollar spend. It will prevent duplication of effort and costs.

Consumer demands

While the cruise industry was for long seen as the most popular way of traveling of the old people, this is no longer the case today. There is an increasing amount of young people, singles and families taking a cruise. This has created a shift in consumer demands. On the one hand, people want to have the same connectivity with the outside world as they have at home. Due to the use of satellites on the ship this creates a real challenge for the cruise industry, and Carnival in specific. Guests not only want to have the same connectivity, they also want to be able to use their own device to connect to the network. The IT infrastructure will need to be able to support a higher connectivity and support a range of devices to meet these customer demands.

6.3 IT Requirements

The strategic intentions require further innovations on information technology. This may lead to further enhancements to already existing solutions as well as the introduction of new technologies. For each of the strategic intentions we defined one or more technology requirements. An overview of these requirements is given in Table X. The requirements are the basis for the identification of strategic IT initiatives. In the next chapter we propose a deployment schedule for those initiatives.

Table X. Strategic Intentions and IT Requirements

Strategic intentions

IT Requirements





Supply (Strategic IT intentions)

Speed to market

Deliver offerings faster to the customer

Reduce time lines of offering delivery

Minimize duplication of effort

Improve communication and collaboration between business lines

A flexible, efficient and effective IT landscape and IT processes…

Duplication = ERP

Collaboration = ERP

Cloud...Communication = SaaS / SOA

Reorganize IT landscape and IT processes; replacement of a patchwork of legacy applications…

Sourcing strategy: keep core IT applications in-house

Outsource non business critical IT; off-the-shelf applications to best-of-breed partners

Customer Relationship Management

Provide 1 view of the customer

Recognize repeat customers

Improve knowledge about the customer

Increase loyalty programs

Analysis of customer behavior

Targeted marketing actions

Central customer database: knowing the potential value of the customer

Understanding customer experience: customer satisfaction

Program initiated: from CRM to CEM (Customer Experience Management)

Measure customer satisfaction = SERVQUAL

Initial cleansing customer master data and prevent entering granularity customer data = CRM

Customer (profitability) segmentation / recognize repeating customers

Cost Management

Make the right investments

Prioritization of investments

Business case development

Understanding impact of choices

Investments made at the right place at the right time in the right sequence.

Portfolio Management

Business Case Management

Consumer Demands

Drive consumer choices

Give information to the customer to drive their decision making

Deliver same connectivity conditions as at home

Make the stay as comfortable as possible

Bring your own device on the boat…

Your own device as point-off-sales

Connectivity: customer wifi.

Mobile Platform connectivity

7. IT Initiatives


7.1 Information Management Strategy


7.2 IT Initiatives


7.2.1 Speed to market

(source: HBR business case en Janssen 2012)

IT supply

A period of heavy consolidation and acquisitions of cruise brands resulted in CCL as they are now. But, every acquisitioned brand stayed a separate organization entity within CCL called business units. Currently CCL has 12 separate business units in total. Every business unit has its own IT department with their own systems, applications and IT infrastructure. Next to this IT landscape diversity within the business units, CCL owns many legacy systems. Due to the fact there aren't many players in the cruise sector, so most of the strategic important applications are custom made.

Due to this "separate business unit" approach CCL has a complex and diversity IT landscape and makes it difficult for CCL to integrate and communicate its information, with additional disadvantage that it's highly costly to run support and their IT infrastructure. IT innovations are difficult to implement, if an innovative system is chosen to implement at CCL, in many cases it takes too long. The CCL IT landscape is not well prepared to adopt innovations or communicate and interconnect with new systems. Their IT costs are currently too high. CCL's speed to market is an serious issue.


To run most of its back-end IT operations, as well as to provide basic communication and productivity applications CCL should select a solid financial partner which diminish long term partner risks (for example Microsoft/ Windows server 2000). Having a single platform and common global applications, like ERP, would help CCL reduce overall expenditures and allow for the flexibility to grow through scalability.

Platform selection

As mentioned before to cut down costs the granularity and complexity of their IT landscape must be simplified. To simplify their IT landscape first all applications will be classified. Their core or strategic IT competencies should be classified as off-the-shelf or custom-made applications. Legacy systems are often custom-made and therefore difficult to replace with off-the-shelf applications. For example CCL has offices around the world which had adopted their own individual accounting and human resources software systems, making it very complex to get an up to-date snapshot of the whole organization's status at any one time. Implementing and global ERP system is the first step to take.

CCL should chose for example for SAP ERP application because of the software giant's solid financial position (which diminished long-term partner risk), its global presence, and the high degree of integration it offered in its applications CCL is a public dual listed company, it required a more integrated approach to financial management, one that would meet GAAP standards and other compliance and regulatory requirements. Legacy financial management systems impeded the development of the strongest possible operating model.

Large companies which are able to renew their IT landscape will have to make important strategic decision. For example should CCL go for "best-in-breed" or one platform approach. Under a best-of-breed strategy, the organization would buy what it believed was the best possible application in the market for a specific need-potentially ending up with many applications, from a plethora of vendors, that did not necessarily "talk to each other." Big disadvantage is called the Pareto effect created by the company's requirements, wherein a relatively small number of specialized applications needs tended to create a disproportionately large number of complexities. In addition, running multiple applications would require multiple specialists, increasing the training costs and IT personnel count. This is exactly what we want to prevent, we want cut costs in IT staff and application costs.

The one-platform approach would have the advantage of generating important economies of scale for the company. Biggest advantage and most important, CCL could efficiently operate with a lower IT support head count when dealing with a single platform, reducing training costs for its IT specialists while leveraging economies of scale under the establishment of global support centers.

Vendor arguments

Applications sourced from the same vendor typically "talk" to each other, allowing information to flow seamlessly and in real time, without the need to design custom interfaces or to acquire expensive middleware. The biggest advantage of a one-platform over a best-of-breed approach is the ability to deploy new technology more quickly and less expensively.

The single-vendor approach, however, would lower CCL's negotiating power regarding future purchases from that one vendor, who would recognize that any decision to move to a different platform would be a costly one. Furthermore, if the vendor was not financially strong or encountered future operating challenges, CCL could put itself at risk should the vendor fail financially. After considering the alternatives, CCL opted for a single-vendor approach with the hope of