Carnival Corporation has announced that it will be retiring AIDAaura from the fleet of its German cruise line AIDA Cruises in September, 2023.
AIDAaura is the first of three ships confirmed to be leaving the Carnival Corporation fleet in the coming months as the world’s largest cruise company seeks to further consolidate its fleet following the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ship entered service in 2003 as AIDA Cruises third vessel, and she will be retired from the fleet after marking her 20th year in service. It’s unclear if Carnival Corporation intends to find a buyer for the ship, or if she will be directly sold for scrap.
Carnival Corporation had confirmed in December that it was planning to sell a further three ships as it looks to cut operating costs in the wake of the pandemic. It said two of the three vessels would be from its Costa fleet but did not name the ships to be sold.
“[Carnival Corporation] expects to remove three additional smaller-less efficient ships from its fleet,” it said in a statemant last month 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.
If the remaining two vessels to be sold come from the Costa fleet, they are likely to be Costa Serena, Costa Diadema or Costa Magica, all of which have yet to re-enter service. Costa Magica is the oldest of them, built in 2004, and is the only one without a resumption date.
These latest ship sales will bring the total fleet reduction undertaken since the pandemic to 26 cruise ships, and newly delivered ships, which are more efficient and bring in more revenue, will represent nearly a quarter of the company’s capacity.
Carnival Corporation, like all cruise lines globally, took on an immense amount of debt during the pandemic, when cruise operations worldwide were shut down for almost a full year.
The industry as a whole is now looking to capitalise on resurgent demand for cruises by enhancing revenue while at the same time trimming staff and operational costs to manage that debt burden.