I don't know about you, but cruise companies always make me think of the Love Boat. Despite the presumed absence of fellow passengers like Charro, it sounds as if vacationers have been loving Carnival (NYSE:CCL) lately, as the company reported strong fourth-quarter revenues on Thursday, an increase based in part on its recent acquisition of P&O Princess Cruises, now renamed Carnival PLC (NYSE:CUK).

Carnival's net income was up 7.3% and revenues increased 75% to $1.82 billion in the fourth quarter. An added $675 million in revenues as a result of its acquisition of Princess, an increase in capacity, and a weak dollar all contributed to the strong sales. Carnival seems to be on a roll; as Jeff Hwang wrote in September, the company reported strong numbers for the third quarter as well.

In the meantime, one of Carnival's major rivals on the high seas, Royal Caribbean (NYSE:RCL), has shown signs of remaining at the docks, so to speak, with a soft outlook for the fourth quarter as of its third-quarter results in October.

Are cruises gearing up to be the rage? The war in Iraq, a bleak job market, and a depressing economy were just a few of the reasons why this type of getaway probably wasn't at the top of your average vacationers' lists last year. Cruises are often viewed as a more expensive -- some might say frivolous -- vehicle for escaping from the everyday grind.

However, recent signals from consumers seem to be pointing to a renewed taste for the good life. Just one example has been that high-end retailers, such as Saks (NYSE:SKS) and Tiffany (NYSE:TIF), have been doing brisk business for the holidays. So, maybe some people plan to combat the post-holiday, winter doldrums with the promise of sunshine, the sea, and shuffleboard -- of course, it's unlikely Charro will be there with them.

In a piece of totally unrelated trivia, it turns out Jill Whelan (Capt. Stubing's daughter, Vicki, on the Love Boat) will be getting married on a Princess cruise ship.

Is Carnival your dream come true, or does it make you a little seasick? Cruise on over to the Carnival discussion board to talk about it with other Fools.

Alyce Lomax welcomes your feedback at alomax@fool.com.