Carnival Cruise Line has confirmed the sale of Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration, its two oldest ships, as well as an order for a second 180,000-gross ton Excel-class mega ship, due for delivery in 2022.
The announcement of the sale of the two ships confirms what was already widely suspected, but Carnival also said that two other ships, Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination, have been moved into long-term cold lay-up, indicating that they might be next to leave the fleet.
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The announcement included some good news though. In 2022, when Carnival Cruise Line turns 50, it will take delivery of the Mardi Gras’ sister ship, another 180,000-gross ton, LNG-powered mega ship complete with six distinct zones.
The sister ship to Mardi Gras will showcase many of her features, including BOLT, the first roller coaster at sea, and sail out of PortMiami as previously announced, Carnival Cruise Line said in a statement.
“We are thrilled to have been able to confirm a delivery date ahead of what we had anticipated for our second Excel ship, which is exciting news for guests interested in sailing from PortMiami on the sister ship to Mardi Gras,” said Christine Duffy, President of Carnival Cruise Line.
To pick up the capacity left by the sale and lay-up of four ships, Carnival Cruise Line has had to make a number of changes to its cruise itineraries for 2021. “We have used this pause in operations to think carefully about our fleet and to build a plan that gives our guests new choices and upgrades to current ship offerings,” said Duffy.
Carnival Sensation will move from Miami to Mobile and take up itineraries previously assigned to Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Fascination.
Carnival Sunrise will in turn move from Port Everglades to PortMiami and assume the itineraries previously operated by Carnival Sensation, providing a larger, upgraded ship for short itineraries with the many new features installed during Carnival Sunrise’s US $200 million transformation in 2019.
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Guests booked on the Sunrise 4- and 5-day itineraries from Port Everglades will be automatically moved to sailings from PortMiami.
In a sign of the cruise line’s future oulook for the industry in the years following the coronavirus pandemic and ensuing economic downturn, Carnival Fascination itineraries from San Juan and Barbados have been cancelled for 2020-2021 as Carnival focuses its return to operations on mainland drive markets in the U.S.
West Coast capacity will be reduced with itineraries for Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration from Long Beach cancelled through April 19th, 2021. Carnival Panorama will continue to operate 7-day cruises from Long Beach, while Carnival Miracle will operate shorter itineraries from San Diego to Baja Mexico.
Carnival Radiance, meanwhile, will now move directly from Europe after its US $200 million transformation and homeport in Long Beach in April of 2021, where it will assume the short Baja Mexico itineraries previously served by Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration.
“Guests booked on Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration after April 22, 2021 will be re-accommodated on Carnival Radiance, where they will experience the host of upgrades and new features including Shaq’s Big Chicken Restaurant and an expanded waterpark popular with families sailing with children,” the cruise line said.
While the announcement of the sale of Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration, and the uncertain future of Fascination and Imagination, has come as a blow to many fans of Carnival Cruise Line, Duffy confirmed that the remaining Fantasy-class cruise ships will remain a part of the fleet moving forward.
“We will continue to invest in the four remaining Fantasy class ships that we are keeping in the fleet,” she said. “We have many guests who prefer our Fantasy-class ships which work so well for shorter itineraries from smaller ports that cannot accommodate our larger ships.”
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