Seafare and software will lead the way in the week of earnings that lies ahead. Let's take a closer look.

If you like the idea of cruising toward great earnings reports -- and midnight dessert buffets don't offend you -- tune into Carnival's (NYSE:CCL) fiscal first-quarter report to kick off the week. With the cruise-line industry coming off a booming 2004 and bookings well ahead of last year's torrid pace, it should be yet another solid report from the leading cruiser.

That's something that Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers know all too well. Steiner Leisure (NASDAQ:STNR) was recommended back in October, when it was trading at $21.96 on the premise that its floating spas -- which are on most of the Carnival ships -- would be a great way to play the cruising industry's revival. The stock has risen by just over 60% since being singled out.

If you listen to Elvis Costello's "Alison" and you hear it as "Ellison," you're probably addicted to Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) and its vibrant CEO, Larry Ellison. The business software giant, which is once again on the acquisitive prowl, will be reporting its third-quarter financials on Tuesday.

Barely burping after Oracle swallowed PeopleSoft, Ellison has his company's sights set on a hostile takeover of Retek, especially if it can wrestle it away from rival SAP (NYSE:SAP). The way Oracle is gobbling down companies, trust me -- you don't want to be standing in line behind it at that midnight dessert buffet I tempted you with earlier. Still, Oracle has topped Wall Street's profit expectations for the past three quarters, so at least it hasn't let its digesting habits get in the way of producing respectable results.

Oh, Ellison, your aim is true.

Is it fate that brings GameStop (NYSE:GME) to the earnings podium on the eve of the rollout of the PlayStation Portable? Perhaps. The new Sony (NYSE:SNE) handheld is likely to be a significant contributor to the video game retailer's current quarter, but on Wednesday the company will be shelling out the skinny on its performance over the critical holiday quarter.

Don't wait up for a stellar showing. If you look really hard, you may make out the Grinch in the background. That's because the company already warned that it had a problem keeping its hardware stocked at its stores. That's something that Dave Marino-Nachison was able to deduce by pointing out how inventory levels were falling at GameStop even as its store count was rising.

That's why it will be important to tune in to the company's conference call to make sure that GameStop's stores are well-stocked with Sony PSPs for Thursday's launch. Sony is shipping a million units, and while Gamestop wouldn't mind selling the higher-margin software titles, it doesn't help if folks are going elsewhere to buy the hardware.

You may not be familiar with Darden Restaurants (NYSE:DRI), but you've probably eaten at one of its casual-dining establishments. Red Lobster. Olive Garden. Bahama Breeze. Smokey Bones. Seasons 52. Sound familiar? The company's third-quarter numbers will be on display come Thursday, and if Wall Street is right and Darden does earn $0.51 a share, that will be its most profitable showing in years.

Comps fell at its flagship Red Lobster chain back in January, but that wasn't as bad as it seems. It was the price the company had to pay for backing off its all-you-can-eat shrimp and crab promotions that were drawing in hungry diners but obliterating profit margins. The company's bean counters got to feeling a little crabby.

Give your itchy trading finger a rest. The market will be closed in observance of Good Friday.

Want to learn more about the companies waiting to report earnings this week? Check out:

Until next week, I remain,

Rick Munarriz

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz hopes that corruptible companies don't take another Elvis Costello song to heart -- like "Pump It Up" or "Everyday I Write the Book." He does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story.The Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of theRule Breakersnewsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.