Carnival Corporation to sell a further three ships as fleet consolidation continues

Carnival Corporation has confirmed it plans to sell a further three cruise ships, two of which will be sold out of its Costa Cruises fleet.

Carnival Corporation did not say which ships it was offloading, although three of Costa’s ships are currently still in lay-up following the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Costa Serena, Costa Diadema and Costa Magica are all yet to re-enter service, but Costa Magica is the oldest of them, built in 2004, and is the only one without a resumption date.

Costa Magica is the only Costa ship that has yet to be scheduled for a return to service

The other two have both been ear-marked for a return to service next year, but Costa Diadema’s is the further off, with a start scheduled for December, 2023.

“The company expects to remove three additional smaller-less efficient ships from its fleet,” Carnival said in a statement issued on Wednesday morning during its Q4 business update. “Two of these three ships are from Costa Cruises’ fleet as part of the company’s strategy to right-size the brand in light of the continued closure of cruise operations in China, and Costa’s significant presence there prior to the pause in the company’s guest cruise operations.”

“Once completed in spring 2024, the company’s fleet optimisation strategy will have reduced Costa’s capacity so that it approximates the 2019 capacity Costa dedicated outside of Asia to its core markets in Continental Europe,” the statement added.

With the sale of the ships, Carnival Corporation said it now expects total capacity growth of 3 percent for 2023 compared to 2019, at the lower end of the previous guidance range of 3 to 5 percent.

Newly delivered ships will now represent nearly a quarter of the company’s capacity as the cruise conglomerate looks to streamline operations and control costs. These latest ship sales will bring the total fleet reduction undertaken since the pandemic to 26 cruise ships.

Carnival Corporation remains the largest cruise company in the world, even after retiring 26 ships from service since 2020.

Carnival Corporation retired ships from its fleet that were older and less efficient, freeing up capacity for new ships it has on order.

The company is also decelerating its newbuild pace in an effort to moderate supply growth and keep spending down.

Josh Weinstein, President & CEO, speaking on the same year-end and fourth quarter earnings call, said that the company didn’t expect to take delivery of any new ships in 2026, and beyond that, would only build one or two ships a year going forward.

Across the company’s nine cruise line brands there are currently six cruise ships on order.

These include Carnival Jubilee, Queen Anne for Cunard Line, Sun Princess, another Princess newbuild that has yet to be named, Seabourn Pursuit, and a Seabourn luxury expedition ship to be delivered in 2023.

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