Carnival Looking Bigger and Better – No New Small Ships

Carnival Cruise Line has let slip their stance on whether or not newbuild small ships may be in the cruise line's future plans.

With new cruise ships larger and more elaborate than ever before, will any cruise line look to smaller vessels as a new alternative for passengers?

Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed that small ships are not on their horizon, though the line will continue to invest in its existing small ships to keep them competitive.

Bigger Isn’t Always Better

While the newest cruise ships with all the bells and whistles – roller coasters, robot bartenders, multi-sensory production shows, interactive artwork, themed lounges, record-breaking thrills, and much more – are certainly attractive to many travelers, not all cruisers are thrilled with bigger, bigger, bigger ships.

Carnival Cruise Line Brand Ambassador John Heald has addressed the idea of new, smaller ships in response to guest questions, noting that the line’s small ships are still favorites.

“John, after y’all get done racing other competitors for the biggest, mostest, newest, whatever the latest fad is on these mega ships, is there any chance the beards will decide to go back to building smaller, more intimate ships?” a guest asked recently.

A number of cruise travelers have expressed concern with the trend toward building only larger new ships. Many features on new ships don’t always appeal to every guest and larger vessels can be more difficult to enjoy for those who may have limited mobility or less interest in thrill features.

Heald’s response highlights Carnival Cruise Line’s commitment to offering the best guest experience while still balancing profitability for the cruise line, which is, after all, a business.

Carnival Jubilee Cruise Ship
Carnival Jubilee Cruise Ship

“There are no plans at all for us … to build smaller ships,” Heald said. “It is not profitable, it is not something that is affordable, and it is not something that attracts the new cruiser.”

New cruisers want to see new features, something exciting and fresh that can’t be found elsewhere. This might be new dining opportunities, a different type of entertainment, or unique features not found on other vessels. Every new ship that is built features new outstanding options, such as the new themed zones aboard Carnival’s newest vessel, Carnival Jubilee.

Small Ships Not Forgotten

Heald does note, however, that the profit brought in by new ships is essential to keep the fleet’s older, smaller ships operating at their peak.

“If we do not attract the new cruiser, we will not survive, and we will not have the money to continue to invest in the smaller ships that we have,” he explained. “And we will continue to invest in them.”

At the moment, Carnival’s smallest ships are also the two oldest in the fleet, the last remaining of the once record-breaking Fantasy class.

Carnival Elation first welcomed guests in March 1998, followed by Carnival Paradise in November 1998. Both ships measure 71,909 gross tons and can welcome roughly 2,100 passengers.

Carnival Elation Cruise Ship
Photo Courtesy: Carnival Cruise Line

Some cruise guests will also remember that the ship now known as Carnival Sunshine used to be Carnival Destiny, which first launched in 1996 – making her technically older than either Carnival Elation or Carnival Paradise.

Carnival Destiny underwent an extensive $155 million (USD) refit in 2013, renovations so extensive that a new ship, renamed Carnival Sunshine, emerged from that dry dock, effectively younger than the Fantasy class ships. The 102,853-gross-ton vessel can welcome just over 3,000 guests.

Comparing these older ships to the newest vessels for Carnival Cruise Line shows stark contrasts. The brand new Excel-class ships – Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and Carnival Jubilee – are all over 180,000 gross tons and able to welcome 5,282 guests at double occupancy. This makes them more than twice as large as the Fantasy class ships.

This also leads to a lot of profit from the newest features aboard the Excel class, profit that can be used for updates on the Fantasy class ships to keep them fresh, relaxing, and filled with fun for every passenger.

Read Also: Former Carnival Cruise Ship, Where Are They Now?

“The most important thing is yes, we will continue to invest in the smaller ships,” Heald confirmed.

Have you sailed aboard the Fantasy class ships? Do you prefer larger or smaller cruise ships? Share your thoughts on the Cruise Hive boards!


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