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Higher Dividend Possible This Year: Carnival CEO

Higher dividends may be in store for shareholders this year, Mickey Arison, CEO and chairman of Carnival Cruises, told CNBC Thursday.

“We do have some free cash flow, because our capital expenditures are coming down. Hopefully, the dividend will be increased,” added Arison, who said the board will meet next week and is expected to decide about a 2011 dividend.

“We’re doing well with more cash flow. Obviously, we should reward our shareholders.”

On Wednesday, Goldman Sachs put Carnival on a key Buy list.

The company owns the Carnival, Princess, Holland America, Cunard and Seabourn cruise lines. Arison is also the owner of the Miami Heat basketball team.

Arison said the company suspended dividends during the recession, but resumed paying them last year. Carnival “tightened its belt,” said Arison, by cutting costs, and it also lowered fares to attract passengers.

On Thursday evening, three of the company’s premier cruise ships—the Queen Mary II, the Queen Victoria and the Queen Elizabeth—will be circling the Statue of Liberty during a fireworks demonstration before heading out to sea.