- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Carnival Cruise Lines, which has been plagued by a string of technical problems that have left passengers stranded at port and at sea, is nonetheless moving to expand its operations.

Company executives announced on Tuesday a shift toward Asia.

Southeast Asia especially is a key growth target, cruise line executives said in an Agence France-Presse report. Plans are for Princess Cruises, one of the company’s properties, to base its Sapphire Princess cruise liner in Singapore before the end of next year. The ship, which has a capacity of 2,670 passengers, will travel to a variety of ports in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, AFP said.

“Carnival is really investing a lot in Asia,” said Pier Luigi Foschi, chairman and chief executive at Carnival Asia, in the AFP report. “We are trying to stimulate the demand of the market. Today, it’s a bit quiet as cruising is not well known.”

The region is perfect for cruising, Mr. Foschi said, because of its year-round calms seas.

Carnival has faced a slew of public relations hits in recent weeks from failing ship technology. In mid-March, the Carnival Dream travelers were delayed at port when the power went out and toilets stopped working — and nobody was allowed to leave. Before that, the Carnival Triumph went adrift for days in the Gulf of Mexico with more than 4,200 people on board.