A fascinating article appeared in USA Today's Cruise Blog by Gene Sloan - "Titans of the Cruise Industry See Their Net Worth Soar."
This is an amazing article reporting on the Forbes 400 richest people in the U.S., which includes Carnival fat cat billionaires Mickey Arison, Royal Caribbean's Pritzker family, and entrepreneur Leon Black whose private equity firm controls Norwegian Cruise Lines, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises.
The article which is re-printed in its entirety below is an insight into how to create a fortune by convincing tax paying Americans to turn over their hard earned money to foreign incorporated, non-tax paying companies operating foreign flagged cruise ships.
The phenomenon is of particular interest to me because I represent the backbone of the cruise industry - crewmembers like Ismael Richards (photograph above) who worked for 14 years - over 350 hours a month never making more than $545 a month until his back failed and he was abandoned by the cruise line.
Mr. Richards found himself with an one-way ticket back to St. Vincent, disabled, with no 401(k) plan, no pension, no job prospects, no social security and no social safety network.
So here is the article about cruise line billionaires, for your prurient interests:
"The past year has been a good one to be a titan of the cruise industry. Just ask Micky Arison (photograph right).
A year ago, as cruise stocks were plunging along with the economy, wealth watcher Forbes was pegging the Carnival mogul's net worth at just $2.9 billion -- a multi-year low. But with the industry on the rebound, Arison's fortunes once again are on the rise.
Forbes' annual ranking of the world's billionaires for 2010, out late Wednesday, puts Arison's net worth at $4.4 billion, placing him at No. 189 on the magazine's closely-watched list. A year ago he ranked at No. 221.
Arison still has a long way to go to reach his former glory. As recently as four years ago, when the cruise business was riding high, Arison's hefty stake in Carnival had landed him among the 100 richest people in the world. In 2006, Forbes estimated Arison's net worth at more than $6 billion, putting him at No. 94 on the list. He ranked at No. 129 in 2007 and No. 189 in 2008.
Micky Arison isn't the only Arison whose fortunes are rebounding. Another Carnival heir, Shari Arison, is now worth $3.4 billion, up from $2.7 billion a year ago, according to Forbes. Alas, Shari Arison's rising wealth isn't enough to keep her in place in the rankings, where she has dropped to No. 277 from No. 234 in 2009. Four years ago she was within striking distance of the Top 100 at 109.
Another would-be cruise mogul, Leon Black (photograph below, left), also is doing better. The self-made financier who controls Apollo Management -- the private equity firm that in turn controls Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven seas Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line -- almost didn't make the Forbes list last year as his net worth plunged to just $1.1 billion. But this year he's on the rebound with a net worth that Forbes pegs at $2.5 billion. He now ranks No. 277 on the list, up from No. 647 a year ago.
Also faring better are the many members of the Pritzker family of Chicago who collectively own a sizable chunk of Royal Caribbean. Forbes says Thomas Pritzker is now worth $1.6 billion, up from $1.3 billion a year ago (though his ranking on the list has fallen to No. 616 from No. 559 in 2009). Jay Robert Pritzker, Anthony Pritzker and Penny Pritzker, with $1.4 billion a piece, are next at No. 721, followed by a half dozen more Pritzkers who tie at No. 773."
Ishmael Richards Jim Walker's Flickr photostream
Mickey Arison Business Week
Leon Black Adam Berry / Bloomberg / Lardov