Competition stiffens between Harding and Starboard

By Kevin Rozario |

Carnival Vista started operations on 1 May.

Carnival Vista started operations on 1 May.

Starboard Cruise Services (an LVMH company) and Harding Retail (a Flemingo company) are now competing more directly in the US after Starboard ceased operations on nine ships belonging to Carnival Cruise Line (CCL), leaving the on-board duty free and travel retail operator with just 15 ships in the CCL portfolio.

TRBusiness reported in its March issue, via a source close to the deal, that Harding Retail had won the contract for the nine vessels and for a new CCL ship called Vista – which debuted on 1 May with a 13-day cruise departing from Trieste, Italy, the first European voyage for Carnival in three years.

Earlier this month, Flemingo Board Director, Paul Topping, confirmed the win, saying: “We are now operating 10 more cruise ships out of the USA and we see this as an opportunity to increase our cruise ship activity in America.”

Starboard Cruise Services logo1At the time of our original report, Starboard CEO, Beth Neumann, told TRBusiness: “Carnival and Starboard have decided to focus on new retail models on 15 ships together, and have jointly agreed to no longer have an operating partnership on nine ships. Carnival and Starboard Cruise Services are committed to a retail partnership, and see great potential for the future.”

Topping: 'We see this as an opportunity to increase our cruise ship activity in America'.

Topping: ‘We see this as an opportunity to increase our cruise ship activity in America’.

Miami-based Starboard has just completed a big renovation of Carnival Magic, and is renovating another three ships. Harding Retail meanwhile took full control of the retail on board its new batch of vessels when Vista launched in May. Heinemann is its supply partner.

Starboard retains retail operations on 11 cruise lines and 100 cruise ships globally while Harding, with this new deal in place, has extended its presence to 20 cruise lines and 62 cruise ships, putting Starboard under pressure in its home market.


As well as its cruise coup in the Americas, Flemingo has also signed an inflight retail agreement with India’s second largest airline, Jet Airways, for a number of its routes which are already in operation, and it has extended an existing inflight tie-up in Turkey.

Topping comments: “In Turkey, Flemingo has signed an exclusive 5.5-year deal to supply inflight product to airlines. Across the airports in the country we are the only company that can supply on-board duty free items to airlines.”

In South America, Flemingo has closed its non-performing retail operations in Paraguay, and its duty paid business in Malaysia.

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