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Carnival Corporation Sells and Reassigns Cruise Ships

Carnival sells and reassigns cruise ships for COVID-recovery
The 25-year-old AIDAcara became the latest cruise ship sold by Carnival Corp. (AIDA)

Published Jun 23, 2021 3:58 PM by The Maritime Executive

Carnival Corporation has sold its nineteenth cruise ship as the world’s largest cruise company works to implement its recovery from the pandemic-related pause in operations. The corporation expects to have just over half its cruise ships back in operations by November 2021 while also announcing plans to redeploy ships after the accelerated disposals in 2020.

Carnival Corporation in 2020 announced that it would accelerate the disposal of older and smaller cruise ships from its brands. Details were later announced for the sale of 18 cruise ships from the corporation’s larger brands including Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, and P&O in both the U.K. and Australia. The sales represented nearly 20 percent of the company’s pre-pandemic fleet.

Carnival’s AIDA brand, which had previously not been included in the fleet adjustments, announced today that it has sold its original cruise ship the AIDAcara, which becomes the nineteenth ship to leave the corporation. The ship will shortly be delivered to a new, unspecified owner. The sale comes almost 25 years to the day after the 38,500 gross ton cruise ship entered service. She was a pioneer for the new brand that launched a German-style holiday camp cruise, with a casual and active atmosphere. AIDA was developed as the successor to an East German vacation company. While most German cruise lines focused on upscale operations, AIDA was the first newly launched brand to focus on a broader audience, including younger adults with sports and children’s programs. The ship also introduced the distinctive livery with stylized eyes and red lips from the Aida opera.

AIDA was briefly acquired by Norwegian Cruise Line before being sold to P&O and becoming part of Carnival Corporation in the 2003 merger. Under Carnival, the line which focuses on German-speaking markets grew rapidly with the addition of larger cruise ships. The AIDAcara, with a capacity of 1,186 passengers, in recent years had operated longer cruises to unique destinations.

In addition to the sale of the AIDAcara, the corporation also reassigned a newbuilding slot at Meyer Werft in Germany from AIDA to Carnival Cruise Line. The slot was to have been used to build a third LNG-fueled cruise ship for AIDA due for delivery in 2023, which would have been a sister ship to the AIDAnova and AIDAcosma. Carnival Cruise Line recently took delivery of the Mardi Gras, which was built from the same design at Meyer Turku and has a second LNG-fueled cruise ship, the Carnival Celebration currently under construction at the shipyard in Finland.

In addition to the reassigned newbuild, Costa Cruises will also transfer one of its cruise ships, the Costa Magica, to Carnival Cruise Line in 2022. Costa is expecting a newbuild from Meyer Turku plus having taken delivery late in 2020 of a new cruise ship from Fincantieri. The Costa Magica, with a capacity of 2,700 passengers, was also built at Fincantieri and introduced in 2004 based on a Carnival Cruise Line design.  

The addition of the two cruise ships to Carnival Cruise Line will help the brand to recoup some of its lost capacity from the accelerated ship sales. The North America brand sold four of its 1990s vintage cruise ships in 2020, three of the ships being recycled in Turkey. The sales reduced Carnival Cruise Line’s capacity by over 8,000 berths.

The corporation’s brands are resuming operations using a gradual, phased-in approach, coordinated with the relaxing of travel restrictions in different parts of the world. By the end of the corporation’s fiscal year on November 30, it expects a total of 42 of its cruise ships to have resumed service, representing 52 percent of total capacity across its global fleet of 91 cruise ships. All the brands, except P&O Australia, have announced plans to resume cruises during the summer and fall of 2021.