Cunard keeps Carnival afloat

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The Independent Online

Carnival, the world's largest luxury cruise ship operator, is expected to announce buoyant full-year results on Thursday with its premium brand, Cunard, keeping its bottom line afloat.

Peter Shanks, managing director of Cunard, which operates the luxury Queen Mary 2, said that it will post a "very strong" profit this year and grow revenues by more than 30 per cent over the next two years, thanks to the Queen Elizabeth, a new $700m liner.

In its late September update for the three months to 31 August, Carnival lifted its 2009 earnings forecast. This was fuelled by bookings for the next three quarters, which were 19 per cent ahead of 2008 levels, spurred in part by heavy discounting.

Mr Shanks said Cunard's revenues grew by 6 per cent in 2009 and he expects 5 per cent growth next year. At the end of 2007 Cunard got a $100m windfall by selling the Queen Elizabeth 2 liner to UAE property company Nakheel. Mr Shanks said it was a "very shrewd, if not lucky, move", since it scaled the company down to two ships just as the recession hit.