Carnival Cruise Line to Integrate P&O Australia, Expands to 29 Ships

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Carnival Corporation & plc has announced that in less than a year, the P&O Cruises Australia brand will be dissolved and absorbed into Carnival Cruise Line, the largest line under the Carnival umbrella and the largest cruise line in the world.

This is a strategic move designed to further increase Carnival Cruise Line’s capacity in a faster, more efficient way when new build ships would be several years away. Carnival Cruise Line is the corporation’s highest returning brand in the global portfolio, making this a financially sound move that will continue to provide the cruise vacations guests desire most.

“Despite increasing Carnival Cruise Line’s capacity by almost 25% since 2019 including transferring three ships from Costa Cruises, guest demand remains incredibly strong so we’re leveraging our scale in an even more meaningful way by absorbing an entire brand into the world’s most popular cruise line,” said Josh Weinstein, chief executive officer of Carnival Corporation & plc.

P&O and Carnival Cruise Line Ships
P&O and Carnival Cruise Line Ships

The three ships from Costa Cruises – Costa Luminosa, Costa Venezia, and Costa Firenze – were added to the Carnival Cruise Line fleet in 2022, 2023, and 2024, respectively. Currently, P&O Cruises Australia encompasses just three ships – Pacific Explorer, Pacific Adventure, and Pacific Encounter.

After this restructuring, Carnival Cruise Line will have a total of 29 active ships, as well as two additional Excel-class ships on order with delivery dates expected in 2027 and 2028.

The oldest ship and smallest P&O Cruises Australia ship is Pacific Explorer, originally built in 1997. That vessel will now be retired in February 2025, and will not enter service with Carnival Cruise Line. The 77,499-gross-ton, Sun-class ship could be sold or scrapped, but those plans have not yet been announced.

Pacific Adventure and Pacific Encounter are both roughly 109,000 gross tons, and both are Grand-class ships. They will be rebranded and added to the Carnival fleet. The exact timeline has not yet been announced, but it is expected that both ships will return to service within 2025, remaining in the South Pacific region.

“We look forward to building on the history and heritage of P&O Cruises Australia by bringing some of our innovations to more cruise guests in the region,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line.

“While we plan to make some technology upgrades and other small changes to the two P&O Cruises Australia ships, they will continue to be geared to the unique Australian market with a familiar feel and much of the same experiences for P&O Cruises Australia guests.”

P&O Australia Cruise Ships
Photo Courtesy: P&O Cruises Australia

One of the large changes that will be made available on the ships as they join the fleet is the popular Carnival Hub app, permitting convenient dining and shore tour reservations, chat features, and other functionality. The Carnival Cruise Line VIFP loyalty program will also apply to the rebranded ships.

“Given the strategic reality of the South Pacific’s small population and significantly higher operating and regulatory costs, we’re adjusting our approach to give us the efficiencies we need to continue delivering an incredible cruise experience year-round to our guests in the region,” said Weinstein.

When both ships are converted and returned to service, Carnival Cruise Line will dominate the corporation’s cruise capacity while bringing the cruise line’s familiar features to eager travelers. In total, 18 ships under the Carnival Corporation umbrella will operate in the region, encompassing nearly 60% of the cruise market.

Read Also: What Cruise Lines Does Carnival Own?

“In 2019, Carnival Cruise Line was 29% of our total capacity, and when we complete this move early next year, Carnival Cruise Line … will make up approximately 35% of our total global capacity,” said Weinstein.

Carnival Splendor in Sydney
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Over the next few years, demand for Carnival Cruise Line is expected to grow by approximately 50% – phenomenal growth that highlights the popularity of the brand worldwide.

It must be noted that this announcement does not in any way impact P&O Cruises, which is a British-based cruise line and operates primarily for the UK and European market.

Celebrating P&O Cruises Australia

With this announcement being made nine months before the three ships will be removed from service, travel fans have plenty of time to set sail with their favorite vessels one last time.

“Over the coming months, we will find ways to celebrate and honor P&O Cruises Australia – a valued part of our legacy and an important contributor to the tourism industry in the South Pacific,” said Weinstein.

All three ships may have months of sailings cancelled, as itineraries have already been announced and made available for booking through early- to mid-2026.

It is possible that the original itineraries may be preserved for Pacific Encounter and Pacific Adventure, but with several weeks’ of sailings cancelled to make room for the rebranding renovations.

As yet, scheduling and itineraries for the expanded Carnival Cruise Line in Australia have not yet been confirmed, but those announcements are sure to be coming in the next few months. Booked guests will want to stay in touch with P&O Cruises Australia for further details.

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