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    The bottom line--It's all about money

    Here's a link to a pdf financial report about AMIE posted on the Yahoo financial page. For specific info on the DQ, go to page 7, 3rd paragraph. Also take a look at page 9, sentence 1 under the paragraph beginning with "But AMIE has several levers....".

    Particularly note this quote: "The boat is just 8% of AMIE's berth capacity and over the years has made just $0.5 - $2M of profit...."

    Of course, the entire article is worth a read.
    First, go to the Yahoo message board at-

    http://messages.finance.yahoo.com/St...49&tof=1&frt=2

    Then click on the link to the value in investing file.

    #2
    Interesting stuff, Jim. And none of it surprises me a bit, as it is obvious that what is happening with MAL is exactly what most of suspected, i.e. the fact that the company is answering to stockholders only, and doesn't give a rat's about the product they are selling, the history baton they are carrying, or the 80 year old name that they purchased is very telling. And that a profit may NOT be good enough, depending on the size of it? That a profit may be seen as a failure?

    I also found it interesting that a company representative, riding on the AQ was very surprized that there was a repeaters party and that one gentleman had 40 cruises (*gasp* and pure shock!!!!). Obviously they don't look at this forum very closely if at all...just as we have said. Have any of these Wunderkind actually ridden on the boats besides this one ignoramous?

    Then there is the "...restrict supply to restore pricing..." and that the MQ may not run in 2009 if cruise line occupancy can't be restored in 2008...you gotta love it...Hey Mal, how's that restricting of supply (i.e. the MQ looking rather forlorn and unloved) working on the American Queen right now, you know the one, your flagship?

    Good to know that the old girl DID made some profit (interesting that it is reported as a spread between $500K and $2000k?) even if it was over five years (or was that per year?), too bad it wasn't good enough for these greedy jerks...since I've been told the DQ hasn't made dime one in ages, I'm starting to wonder if anything I read or hear is true.

    Did you also note the little diddy about the DQ losing her exemption will actually be helping the company? We all called that one,too...

    Spin, spin, spin, maybe? And the people that have asked me so nicely not to say such things, not to be so angry (and you know who you are), it's difficult not to be when the company makes it so easy for their true loyal customers, Deb and me, to become mad, sorta like a sharp stick in the eye! No love lost on MAL's part, is there? And yes, I know it's a business, but GEEZ LOUISE...

    Right now our reserved 2008 trips don't look too appealing...

    Dammit, I was getting optimistic, too...
    Last edited by Bruno Krause; 10-14-2007, 08:57 PM.

    Comment


      #3
      Thanks for the link Jim

      It was interesting reading. Yes, it is all about money. Yes, it confirms what we have all known and that is the difficulty of filling all of the boats all of the time especially after 9/11.

      I don't want the DQ to be the sacrificial lamb. She is absolutely the most authentic, the most magical, and actually the right size for the type of trips that embody steamboatin'.

      I thought it was interesting about the comments about Delaware North and the primary interest in gambling or casino boats.

      But I am still stuck with mixed feelings. I don't want to wish ill of MAL or the Oberroths or the "parents" who are caring for the boats. I may not agree with their parenting skills or how they are running things or the decisions they are making but since they are the parents- it is their right to make those decisions. But at the same time, I want to beg them to reconsider their strategies. None of the boats wants to sit and deterioate and not be used.

      The idea of fire on the DQ- she has more sprinklers than all the rest, better training of crew, and is so beloved- I cannot imagine carelessness happening aboard her. She is so safe!

      I do think as others have suggested that the union connection to congress is blatantly obvious now. That frustrates me.

      But I have contacted my local politicians. I have spent more time editing the book I have basically written and just have to arrange publishing with one of theose on-demand publishers. My book is personal- a bit like some of the blogs from steamboat Mary Charlton who has read a copy and shared it as I encouraged her to do. Maybe it won't have a huge impact at all but again, I want the steamboats on the rivers for my grandchildren and great grandchildren. I want them to be able to ride the boats and most especially the Delta Queen. I just don't know how to make that happen unless I win the zillion dollar lottery.

      Then I would borrow other people's ideas and buy the DQ (everyone has a price) and have to hire a lot more expertise than I have to figure out how to run her.

      But thanks again Jim for the link to the finances.

      Comment


        #4
        I obviously am NOT the expert, but I have a real hard time buying the excuse that these boats are hard to fill because of 9-11. I smell bull merde when I hear that.

        Other cruise lines aren't hurting, especially cruise lines that require real long distance air travel to get to them. What other cruise line can you travel by car or train to just about every starting/ending port? So how does 9-11 fit into the picture.

        THIS IS MY OPINION, the boats were slightly underpriced and now they are grossly overpriced, in comparison to other cruise companies. I'm thinking a $280 a night room in 2004 should be about $380 to $400 a night, not $650 a night as it is in 2008, more than double? And has the company done ANY type of advertising, has anybody seen an ad in a paper, or a travel magazine? What about partnerships with AARP and repairing the busted up partnership with AAA? NO, in my opinion 9-11 is the least of MAL's worries. And, again my opinion... which is more profitable, selling every single stateroom on a cruise at 135% of 2004 prices, or selling only 50% of your rooms on a cruise, of which 25% were sold at 200% of 2004 prices, and 25% at 75% of 2004 prices (i.e. last minute deals), with the remaining 50% of the boat running empty? Sound familar?

        Comment


          #5
          Bruno- the pricing problems started under Zell

          When I first started on the boats as an employee in 2001, I had already turned down the job for several reasons.

          One of the reasons was because I was going from being a well paid international business development manager to a poorly paid bartender aboard a steamboat. But as that business development manager, I did some research for articles like the one Jim showed us.

          There I found some information that Zell's expansion plans to Hawaii were meaning his boats on the Mississippi were subsidizing the Pacific waters project. When he decided on the northeast coastline project, he faced huge competition from a pocket of the country (where you live) that is also considered reasonably wealthy.

          Well, none of what I was reading made fiscal sense so I asked a few people and was advised- don't work for Zell, he is a shark. When one of my other projects did not pan out, I called DQSC back and accepted working on the AQ in the summer of 2001. Very quickly 9/11 happened and then the bankruptcy while I was home on vacation at a family re-union in Westchester county NY with survivors of 9/11.

          So, while on a non-voluntary extended leave, I did more research and decided the prices were screwed up for quite some time.

          When I returned in 2002 on the MQ, it was clear the boats really were hard to fill all three boats. Whether that was air travel, pricing, not being a super sexy vacation (to the outside world), poor marketing, or what---maybe all of those things. One thing that I don't think was a problem was high degrees of waste or fiscal mismanagement of labor costs. Yes, there was a union but it was still an underpaid job with lots of hours and tremendous responsibilities for many things including safety on board the boats. The only people that really made great money were the ones most responsible for boat safety and they deserved every penny.

          Most companies look at the differences between management and staff and get pretty upset. The boats were different. Staff and management did not always get along but the reason why the boats were not making money was not really mismanagement of labor. Those costs increased to be sure as they have with every business because of increases in insurance just as one item.

          But the boat did have pricing issues including something as simple as the prices of drinks at the bar and even making space and using bottom shelf stuff. The other cruise lines only sell top shelf drinks. It is one small but simple fix that could have happened.

          There is more but I need to get to work at my job that earns me money in the very crazy airline industry.

          But I just wanted to mention that it is hard to fill the boats and it is for many reasons including how they are managed.

          But I love ya Bruno and Deb- you are in my picture collection of great friends from steamboat days.

          Elaine

          Comment


            #6
            The problem of filling the boats.

            Let me reiterate once again, for those who haven't seen my previous postings long ago on this. There has been an oversupply of berths ever since the AQ came out in 1995. This was due to a decision by the owners and top management of the 1990-92 era, whoever they were. At that time, the boat officers and office managers, including Patti Young - then VP for PR - had a powwow about building a third boat. They concluded there was a market, but for a boat BETWEEN the size of the DQ and MQ, in other words, for a 250-300 passenger vessel. So what did the decision makers do? They gave us the 436 pax AQ! This was 10 years before 9/11. So the overcapacity problem is not new. Blaming 9/11 is as sensible as blaming Congress or the Union. In MY opinion: Plain and simple: MAL bought up as many boats as possible to eliminate competition, knowing full well they weren't going to continue to run them all. Dumping the union was not only a cost saving measure, but a sure fire way to get opposition to the DQ exemption, thereby sparing MAL of the blame of shutting her down and passing it on to someone else. My opinion, but like them or not, you can go back over the years on my opinions and you'll see I know what I'm opining about... I still ask, don't the investors whom MAL is trying to please have any input into management decisions???

            Comment


              #7
              Love ya back Elaine...

              I apologize, upon re-reading this morning, your first post really wasn't about 9-11, was it? Yesterday was a day of dubious news and I was in one of my funks... and was only seeing what I wanted to see. What is it about Germans? Deb's the same way...

              Could have used your skills and humor on our last cruise! Still say you made the best Julip I've ever had. The bar staff, last cruise, was in short supply...

              And Judy,

              dead nuts on, hammer on nail, my friend...My Opinion

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks Jim for posting that very sobering Yahoo report. Do you know if the author is connected to the company or is the person doing their own independent analysis?
                I would like to point out one thing about the issue of blaming Congress for putting the DQ out of business. It may come to that. But everyone should not be fooled into thinking that it is just the fault of Congress. Here is a little background in my thinking. In my current job with the State of Tennesse Archives, I have to record the sessions and committee meetings of the TN Senate. We just passed a no smoking in restaurants law this year. The reason that it passed was because the restaurant owners wanted it but they did not have the guts to tell their customers not to smoke. They wanted the government to pass a law so that they could put the blame on the state.
                It looks to me like there is a bit of that going on with the exemption for the DQ. Perhaps we need to focus a lot more pressure on the company to continue to fight harder. Now just how do we do that? I don't know. It may be harder to convince the company to keep the DQ operating than it will be to convince Congress. Just my opinion.

                Comment


                  #9
                  You are right about the "guts" analogy, Ted. Same thing applies here. The Ueberroths care nothing about steamboats. The don't care whether the DQ runs or not.

                  MY OPINION FOLLOWS. As to where the stockholders are when it comes to management decisions, they don't care, either -- they trade stocks so they can make money by owning pieces of a company and not be bothered with management. If the company doesn't do well, they seel their stock. Capt. "Wamp" Poe said it very succinctly in "River's In My Blood" by Jane Curry. He was talking about towboats, but the same thing applies here: "Olin is in the barge line business because its a cheap way to move something. They don't care about the river or boats. If it is cheaper to move something by billy goat, they'll be in the billy goat business." MAL is looking to cash in on the cruise market, and they saw a niche. Bought up the competition to control the niche to make the money for themselves. MY OPINION.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Bruno,
                    I believe you hit the nail straight on the head. The cost of a cruise on the DQ is currently geared to only attracting the wealthy, not your average citizen. If the costs were more reasonable, they would have no trouble filling the boat.

                    The lack of media advertising is also hurting them. I can't tell you how many TV ads I've seen for Carnival, Royal Carribean, Norwegian, Disney and other cruise lines, but I've yet to see a TV ad for MAL. You have to know where to look on the internet to find them. They need to be reaching the general public.

                    Partnerships with other organizations would also be a good thing. AARP would be a good start. There are also a number of steam enthusiasts who look no further than railfan groups and magazines. Many in these groups who do not live along inland waterways are totally ignorant that the steamboats still exist. They could be advertizing in them.

                    I already have a link to steamboats.org in my own steam whistle group to help promote the DQ and mention it often. I would welcome MAL adding a link. Adding links in all steam related groups is a good way of reaching people with this common interest. We also need to reach those outside of our special interests. Ads in newspapers and TV would reach these, but may prove too expensive.

                    You could run ads cheaply in small community newspapers such as Northern KY's Dixie News and Paducah's Lone Oak News. These are just two examples. There are many more. It costs nothing to add a link to a group. All of this would help to raise the needed awareness to entirely new groups of people.



                    Originally posted by Bruno Krause View Post
                    THIS IS MY OPINION, the boats were slightly underpriced and now they are grossly overpriced, in comparison to other cruise companies. I'm thinking a $280 a night room in 2004 should be about $380 to $400 a night, not $650 a night as it is in 2008, more than double? And has the company done ANY type of advertising, has anybody seen an ad in a paper, or a travel magazine? What about partnerships with AARP and repairing the busted up partnership with AAA? NO, in my opinion 9-11 is the least of MAL's worries.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Richard and Bruno, y'all are correct about the advertising. But what is also true is HOW they spend their advertising dollars. I have received several of the thick, slick brochures MAL produces. I assumed it was because I was a past passenger and was on their lists, but found this was apparently not so...before we moved, our next-door-neighbors received several also. Now, we're not poor, but definitely did not live in an "upscale" neighborhood or the type I would target if I were in the marketing business. My neighbors were no more interested in a river cruise than the man in the moon. They possibly could have afforded it if it were REALLY something they were interested in, but they're not. Maybe the company was trying a saturation campaign to generate interest, I don't know. But my neighbors knew of our association with the boats, and offered their brochures to us, saying it was FAR too expensive for them...I of couse declined their offer of a brochure since I had my own. Those things cannot be cheap.

                      As to the brochures themselves, they do not make me want to take a steamboat cruise. I'd like to go again, but those magazine-sized brochures are not what would entice me, whether I knew about the boats or not. As has been posted here before, I don't care about bathrobes, sheet thread-counts, flat-screen TV's or any of that. Their product is unique, and that is what sells riverboat cruises. A much simpler brochure, with other methods of advertising, would be far more effective, in my book.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Bob, be very thankful you get anything from the company. I have registered my office e-mail and address and my home e-mail and address. Very, VERY rarely will I get something from MAL on my office computer...

                        But at home, NOT A THING, NADA, ZILCH and from everything that I have read about my generation and retirement and who MAL is trying to target with this "nitch", I'm surprised they aren't camped out at the end of my driveway. Deb and I are not rich by any means, but we are a long way from poor, too. And considering we typically spend $15 or so large on DQ cruises a year, you think MAL and the Krause's would be best buds... But no... Thank god for Phyllis, or we would really feel unloved. And the ONLY way we hear aboaut specials is when one of our DQ friends in another part of the country forwards a special they received on to us.

                        And the funny thing is there are two other big time DQ cruisers, real FRN's, both in New York State like Deb and me, who also receive nothing from the company. What is New York like the plague to MAL? Hey, MAL we gots lots of da money, honest!

                        I have also sent them an e-mail with a question and got an automated response from MAL's computer saying they received it and would respond as soon as possible. I'm still waiting for my answer, it's been like 9 months. But I will admit that I had an issue with a credit and over the phone MAL resolved it immediately.

                        Deb thinks MAL ignores us because of what I have said on this forum... :-)
                        Last edited by Bruno Krause; 10-15-2007, 11:27 AM.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          And one more thing, says the thread hog...

                          Is it me, or does MAL think that all staterooms, despite which boat the rooms are on, are interchangable? That the rooms are the same, that the west coast boats are identical it the DQ in the "experience"? That removing the DQ from service is OK because those people displaced will just run over and hop on the AQ, since it's identical?

                          Has anybody in MAL management ridden the boats at all? I know some ex-DQSC now working at MAL obviously have, but anybody else? I don't believe they have a clue what they bought. Gotta admit that would explain MAL yanking the eagle...
                          Last edited by Bruno Krause; 10-15-2007, 11:31 AM.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            The main point that would attract me is that the riverboat is a genuine steam powered paddlewheel vessel and not a diesel powered propeller driven imitation using the paddlewheel only for show. The fact that it would have a genuine steam whistle and calliope aboard would be the single biggest selling points for me.

                            Bathrobes, sheet thread-counts, flat screen TV and fancy magazines could matter less, as you can find them in any land-based hotel. They need to be spending their money where it counts-pointing out what makes a cruise on one of their boats a truly unique experience. A riverboat is so much more than simply a floating hotel! It needs to be actively promoted as such.

                            They also need to be catering to other segments of the population than only the upper class. There are plenty of middle class citizens who would love the opportunity to take a cruise on a riverboat if it were only more affordable. I am one of them.


                            Originally posted by Bob Reynolds View Post
                            Richard and Bruno, y'all are correct about the advertising. But what is also true is HOW they spend their advertising dollars.

                            I don't care about bathrobes, sheet thread-counts, flat-screen TV's or any of that. Their product is unique, and that is what sells riverboat cruises. A much simpler brochure, with other methods of advertising, would be far more effective, in my book.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              I think it is going to be very hard for any company to find any upper class baby boomers in a few years...Now don't get me wrong there are a gazzilion baby boomers that are living like they are upper class, trying to believe they are upper class, but in reality the only thing they have done has increased the profits at the country's banks.

                              Wait until they try to retire...

                              Comment

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