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Published: Wednesday, 4/10/2013

Carnival Offers Motel 6 Price for Caribbean After Triumph

BLOOMBERG NEWS

MIAMI -- Carnival Corp. 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 Web site yesterday. The lowest nightly rate at the budget-priced Motel 6 chain was $39.99, according to an online ad.

Carnival, based in Miami, generated headlines worldwide in February after the engine fire on the Triumph left 3,100 passengers at sea for several days with limited food and toilet service. The ship briefly broke loose from its moorings in high winds last week in Mobile, Ala., where it is being repaired.

“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.”

Vice Chairman and Chief Operating Officer Howard Frank said on a March 15 conference call that fares were running slightly ahead of last year. Bookings in the three-week period after the Triumph incident were lower for the company’s Carnival-brand ships, he said. Volume recovered after the company offered “new marketing promotions,” he said.

Cruise pricing also took a hit last year after Carnival’s Costa Concordia ran aground off the Italian coast, killing 32 passengers.

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, Fla., and Cozumel, Mexico, according to the Web site.

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 Web site. Government fees and taxes bring the total to $454 for two.



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