Carnival Intends to Sell Three Cruise Ships Across Brands

Three Carnival Corporation ships, two from Costa Cruises, are to be sold, but which vessels may be on the chopping block?

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As part of its quarterly business report, Carnival Corporation has announced that three ships are to be sold, two of which are from the existing Costa Cruises fleet. The identity of the individual ships has not been announced, but they are all described as the smaller ships in the Carnival cruise fleet.

Three Ships to Be Sold

Carnival is planning to remove three “smaller-less efficient ships from its fleet,” according to the Fourth Quarter 2022 Business Update.

While the report does not reveal many details of the impending retirement, sale, or scrapping of three ships, it does state that the vessels to be removed are smaller vessels, two of which are part of Costa Cruises.

The two oldest ships in the Costa fleet are Costa Fortuna and Costa Magica, which entered service for the line in 2003 and 2004, respectively. Costa Deliziosa, however, is the smallest ship in the fleet, and might also be considered for removal.

It is also possible that either Costa Serena or Costa Diadema could be part of the removal plans, as both ships are currently out of service.

Costa Serena has been intended to serve the Chinese cruise market, but with travel restrictions still limiting options in the region, the ship has not yet resumed service post-pandemic. At the moment, there are no future itineraries scheduled for the ship.

Costa Fortuna Cruise Ship
Costa Fortuna Cruise Ship (Photo Copyright: Sergey Kohl / Shutterstock)

Costa Diadema is likewise out of service, but is scheduled to resume sailings in the Mediterranean in April 2023. Those sailings, however, could be transferred to a different ship if Costa Diadema is removed from the fleet.

Other than the two as-yet-unannounced Costa Cruises ships to be removed, one other Carnival Corporation vessel is also slated to be retired, sold, or scrapped.

That ship could come from any of the company’s cruise lines, which include not only the namesake Carnival Cruise Line, but also AIDA Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, and Seabourn Cruise Line.

Several ships could be under consideration for removal among the different fleets, but likely candidates due to size, age, and updates include AIDAaura (2003), AIDAdiva (2007), Carnival Elation (1998), Carnival Paradise (1998), Volendam (1999), Zaandam (2000), Grand Princess (1998), and others.

Read More: Former Carnival Cruise Ships, Where Are They Now?

Carnival Elation Cruise Ship
Photo Credit: Melisaa Mayntz

The decision of which ships to remove will be based on many factors, including whether or not a ship services a valuable niche for its market, what updates may be necessary to keep the ship more efficient and competitive, and whether or not a suitable buyer is available.

It is also possible that a newer but possibly more problematic ship could be removed, based on reducing maintenance workloads and repair needs.

Regardless of which ships are to be removed, the sales and other parts of the company’s “fleet optimization strategy” are expected to be completed by spring 2024. The ships could be sold at any time, however, should a suitable buyer be interested.

Why Remove Ships?

Removing three more ships is part of the company’s overall fleet optimization strategy, especially as it relates to the Chinese cruise market and the continued closure of the region.

Once complete, the company expects Costa Cruises’ capacity to be similar to the 2019 capacity outside of Asia, including in the cruise line’s core market in Europe. This is where operations will likely be concentrated for the foreseeable future, ensuring greater stability in offering cruise service to eager travelers.

Cruise lines also sell or scrap ships when it becomes less profitable to operate the vessels due to technical limitations or changes to maritime regulations covering engine efficiency, emissions, or other environmental factors.

Despite selling three ships, however, Carnival Corporation & plc’s overall fleet capacity is expected to grow by 3% in 2023 compared to 2019, representing new ships forecast to join various fleets by the end of next year.

Carnival Jubilee, for example, is expected to set sail from Galveston, Texas in December 2023, while Seabourn Cruise Line is slated to welcome Seabourn Pursuit in April 2023.

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