Carnival Delays New LNG Cruise Ship While P&O Sells Older Cruise Ship

Carnival Cruise Line delays Mardi Gras and Carnival Radiance while P&O Cruises sells ship
Mardi Gras during her float out in January 2020 - courtesy Meyer Turku

Published Jul 7, 2020 5:28 PM by The Maritime Executive

Carnival Cruise Line blaming the impact of the coronavirus on the shipbuilding industry announced that it is delaying by three months the introduction of its much-anticipated new cruise ship the Mardi Gras. The largest cruise ship in Carnival Cruise Line’s history, the 180,000 gross ton ship, which will also be the first LNG-powered cruise ship operating in North America, is now expected to enter service on February 6, 2021.

"We continue to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global commerce, public health, and our cruise operations,” said Christine Duffy, president of Carnival Cruise Line. "In addition to our current pause in service, there have been many other unintended consequences, including shipyard, dry dock, and ship delivery delays, and related changes to our deployment plans for our fleet. While we had hoped to make up construction time on Mardi Gras over the summer, it's clear we will need extra time to complete this magnificent ship.”

Under construction at Meyer Turku in Finland, the Mardi Gras is being built on a design similar to Carnival Corporation’s other LNG-powered ships, including the AIDANova, Costa Smeralda, and the yet to be delivered Iona. It is the second delay for the Mardi Gras, which had previously been scheduled to be introduced in August 2020. Carnival said at the end of 2019 that her construction was behind schedule causing the cancelation of the first eight sailings, including European, transatlantic, and New York-based cruises. The ship will proceed directly to its home port in Port Canaveral, Florida.

The delay of the Mardi Gras is only one of the consequences resulting from the coronavirus’s ongoing impact on the cruise industry. Carnival had targeted August for its first cruises, but recently extended its suspension of service through September. Carnival also said that it was currently evaluating shipyard options for the planned reconstruction of the 20-year-old Carnival Victory. The ship had arrived at Navantia in Cadiz, Spain for a planned $200 million renovation just as the pandemic began. Much of the internal demolition was completed before work was suspended. Carnival now says the ship’s return to service as the Carnival Radiance will not likely be completed till the spring of 2021, nearly a year behind schedule.

Carnival Cruise Line and its parent company Carnival Corporation are continuing to manage their business during the suspension in operations. Carnival Corporation has scheduled an update to investors for July 10 during which it is expected that additional details will be provided on the company’s efforts to lower costs and downsize operations. The company had recently said that it was completing the sale of at least six ships from its current fleet of 100 cruise ships.

In advance of the business update, P&O Cruises, another Carnival Corporation brand, confirmed reports that it has sold one of its cruise ships. The 77,000 gross ton Oceana, built in 2000, has been sold to an unidentified buyer. “During this pause in our operations we need to fit the fleet for the future and ensure we have the right mix of ships once we resume sailing,” said P&O Cruises president Paul Ludlow.

Recently news also emerged that Carnival’s Costa Cruises had sold for scrap one its ships introduced in 1996. Since that announcement, observers have been speculating on which other ships were likely to be sold and if they could find a buyer for further trading or would also be scrapped.