Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Finally, a formal statement from our sponsor....

Cruise operator Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. reported sharply lower second-quarter earnings Monday, blaming higher fuel prices, and said it would cut 400 jobs.

Royal Caribbean earned $84.7 million, or 40 cents a share, in line with Wall Street expectations. In the same period a year ago it earned $128.7 million, or 60 cents a share.

Although demand for cruises remained high in the quarter, fuel prices soared 55 percent. As a result, the company said it would take several steps to cut costs by about $125 million including eliminating jobs.

"Too much of our profitability is being eroded by the increase in fuel prices," CEO Richard Fain said in a statement. "This is unacceptable and we are evaluating everything we do to find ways to do it more efficiently and effectively."

Royal Caribbean will eliminate approximately 400 shore-side positions. It also is getting rid of some non-core operations, such as "The Scholar Ship," an educational program for college students to study abroad at sea.

The company expects to incur approximately $15 million, or 7 cents a share, in charges in the third quarter related to restructuring.

Royal Caribbean said it expects third quarter earnings per share, including the restructuring charges, to be $1.65 to $1.70, nearly unchanged from earlier forecasts except for the direct increase in fuel costs.

Shares of the company closed at $22.70 and remained unchanged in after-hours trading.

In the news

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wow! End of a Voyage AND The Program???

The Chronicle of Higher Education

June 16, 2008

Scholar Ship Cancels Next Year's Voyages

After just a single academic year in operation, an innovative program that offered students a chance to pursue a degree while sailing the world has succumbed to financial pressures and ceased operation, at least for the coming year. The Scholar Ship, whose sponsors included Royal Caribbean Cruises and an international consortium of universities, has announced that the next cruise, which had been planned for September, will not take place.

Ron Zighelboim, the program’s founder and managing director, said the current economic climate had forced the cruise line to cut its financial support of the Scholar Ship. “Amid the stratospheric costs of oil and food, which are Royal Caribbean’s two biggest expenses, they are understandably tightening their belt,” he said. “The shame of it all is that it’s happened just as we were coming off our first year of operation, when we had operated two very successful voyages and felt that we were really hitting our stride.”

Some 400 students from 35 countries took part in the first two voyages, and 350 students had enrolled for the coming academic year. Mr. Zighelboim said that students who had signed up for cruises this fall and in early 2009 would be reimbursed. Some 100 employees, including 30 to 40 academic staff members, will also be affected by the cancellations.

Mr. Zighelboim was optimistic that the program would find backers to support future cruises, but said it was too late to salvage the cruises planned for the coming year. If enough money is found, there might be a chance of operating a cruise in September 2009, he said.

Students determined to study on the high seas are not necessarily forced ashore. Semester at Sea, a program that dates from the 1960s, has posted a notice on its Web site encouraging students who had planned on participating in Scholar Ship cruises to apply for the rival program. —Aisha Labi

Friday, April 18, 2008

April 18 - The end of the voyage has come....And another one in September?

The seas have been very rough and the sky is grey... Rain is falling and we all feel so sad...
here was very little partying last night. The students said this morning that it is the sea is signaling for us to get off the ship :)

Tonight we will have our closing ceremonies and I am sure we will see even more tears. The faculty is trying to keep their spirits up but I can feel that so many of us are torn between wanting to spend time with others while already making the shift to that tomorrow holds for each one of them...

I am off to New York City to see my kids and hopefully spend a week of vacation. My hope is that I will be bale to come back to this blog and update it with all the photos and writings I have not been able to post throughout the voyage. The big question will be -- will I feel like re-living the voyage so soon after "coming back to earth"?

We had a re-entry consultant come on board the ship to help us deal with the range of emotions and reactions we are and will be experiencing. Research shows that many people after an experience like ours have a difficult time adjusting. They have problems with wanting to tell their story while forgetting that their beloved ones have had also their own stories unfolding at the same time and may not have the inclination to be a passive listener to the "amazing times" the travelers had...

We shall see...

Meanwhile, I am smiling because I have been told I have been selected to go on The Scholar Ship's next voyage!!! Portugal, Panama, Ecuador, New Zealand, Australia, and China - here I come!!!!!!!!!!