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Consumer Confidential: More cruises, fewer flu shots, free cones

March 23, 2010 | 10:41 am

Here's your tip-o-the-hat Tuesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

--When the going gets tough, the tough go cruising. At least that's the word from our friends at Carnival Corp., the world's largest cruise-ship operator. The company says its quarterly earnings climbed as bookings rose 8% for the next three fiscal quarters. And higher cruise prices did nothing to deter people from signing up for holidays at sea. "I think we are surprised by the strength of pricing that has come back this year," Howard Frank, Carnival's chief operating officer, told analysts. "Whether we can sustain the booking volumes is the next question." I'd be happy to help, if only I didn't get seasick ...

--Speaking of feeling a little green at the gills, Walgreen Co., for one, wishes you'd get sick a little more. The drugstore chain says its quarterly earnings took a hit because not enough people came in search of flu vaccinations and cold remedies. Swine flu might have reached pandemic proportions, but apparently most of us simply chose to ride it out. Walgreens delivered 2 million flu shots in the quarter ending Feb. 28, compared to 5 million in the previous three-month period.

--It's Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. From noon until 8 p.m., you can stop by any participating B&J's outlet and score some free premium ice cream to celebrate the company's founding about three decades ago. Whatever. In times like these, free ice cream is a swell treat. But don't dawdle. Those who have taken advantage of past Free Cone Days say it can get a little intense near the closing bell.

-- David Lazarus

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