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Carnival Corp. is shedding 15 ships across its fleets: Here's what it means for cruisers

Morgan Hines
USA TODAY
Another venerable mid-1990s favorite is Holland America Line’s Veendam.

As the novel coronavirus emerged, the cruise industry came to a screeching halt that has lasted for months. Resuming sailings will happen slowly and in regional phases with at least one U.S. line's pause in operations already extended until December.

As cruise lines surge forward without the same incoming revenue, some, including cruise giant Carnival Corp., have announced that they are making reductions to their fleets of ships. But those cuts go beyond saving the cruise companies money – they affect passengers, too.

While many passengers are dealing with cruise cancellations as a result of sailing suspensions, other travelers are facing cancellations or schedule changes because of  ships' departures.

Carnival Corp. is getting rid of 15 ships

On a July 10 earnings call, Carnival Corp., which owns eight cruise lines, said its fleet of ships would be reduced by 13 ships. Later, on July 29, the company notified investors in an 8K filing that it would shed two more unidentified ships bringing the grand total to 15.

"To reduce our cash burn and have a more efficient fleet we have aggressively shed less-efficient ships," Arnold Donald, company CEO said on the July call.

Carnival Corp.'s fleet is made up of ships from its subsidiary lines including flagship Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Cunard, AIDA Cruises, Costa Cruises and P&O Cruises in the United Kingdom and Australia.

The ships being removed will meet different fates. Most are being sold, and a few are being recycled, Roger Frizzell, Carnival Corp. spokesman, told USA TODAY.

Four of the departures were announced in 2019. P&O Australia's Pacific Dawn, P&O UK's Pacific Aria, Costa Cruises' Costa Atlantica and Costa Mediterreana ships were scheduled for removal last year.

But the newly announced fleet reductions will affect travelers who had already booked on those ships – many may be entitled to future cruise credit or a refund if their itineraries were canceled.

Their cruises were canceled months ago:These customers are still waiting on refunds

Carnival Cruise Line sells Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration

Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival Corp.'s flagship line, announced it will sell two of its ships, the Carnival Fantasy and the Carnival Inspiration, as a part of the company's overall fleet reduction. 

In addition to selling two ships – but not included in the overall reduction – the Carnival Fascination and the Carnival Imagination will move to a long-term layup status, meaning they will be out of operation but will remain in the fleet. There are no plans or dates determined to resume operation, according to a release provided by line representative Vance Gulliksen. 

The removal of the four ships from Carnival's rotation of ships means puzzle-like schedule shifts for many of Carnival's vessels that will be operating.

  • Carnival Sensation will move to Mobile, Alabama, from Miami and will take on Carnival Fascination and Carnival Fantasy's previously scheduled itineraries. Guests scheduled to sail on those two ships are being accommodated on the Sensation.
  • Carnival Sunrise will move to PortMiami from Port Everglades to assume Carnival Sensation's previously scheduled itineraries. Guests booked to sail on the Sunrise's four- and five-day itineraries will be automatically moved to sail from its new embarkation point in PortMiami.
  • The Carnival Fascination itineraries leaving from San Juan and Barbados have been canceled for 2020 through 2021.
  • The Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration itineraries from Long Beach have been canceled through April 19, 2021. 
  • Carnival Panorama will continue its seven-day itineraries from Long Beach, California, and Carnival Miracle will move to operate itineraries from San Diego to Baja Mexico.
  • Carnival Radiance will move to Long Beach after its renovation is complete and is expected to arrive in April 2021 to begin Baja Mexico itineraries that had been run by Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration previously. 
  • Guests booked on Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration after April 22, 2021, will sail on Carnival Radiance.

Also as a result of the layup and the sale, cruises have been canceled from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where service is being stopped. Carnival Cruise Line typically sends off 50 voyages yearly from the San Juan port. 

The full tally of cancellations though is hard to determine, Gulliksen said, given ships are shifting itineraries and home ports and other ships are being introduced.

Holland America drops four ships

Holland America Line, which had 14 ships, is removing four from its fleet in 2020. 

The ships that will depart the fleet include the Amsterdam, the Maasdam, the Rotterdam and the Veendam.

“It’s always difficult to see any ship leave the fleet, especially those that have a long and storied history with our company,” Stein Kruse, chief executive officer of Holland America Group and Carnival UK, said in a release.

The ships were sold off in pairs, according to a statement provided by Erik Elvejord, spokesperson for the cruise line. The Maasdam and Veendam will transfer to another company in August, and the Amsterdam and Rotterdam will move to a different company in the fall. All four of the ships had been part of the Holland America fleet for at least two decades.

The previously unplanned removal of those ships will mean that some Holland America passengers' sailing schedules will be affected:

  • The 2021 Grand World Voyage meant to take place on the Amsterdam will be postponed until 2022 and will sail on the Zaandam.
  • The Grand Africa Voyage that was meant to depart on Oct. 10, 2021, on the Rotterdam will sail on the same dates but on the Zaandam.

The removal of the four vessels has also caused cancellations.

"It will mean some cruises are canceled and guests have been receiving notification of similar offers during the pauses," Elvejord told USA TODAY on Thursday. 

Voyages canceled include:

  • Canada/New England and Grand Voyages on the Amsterdam.
  • Mexico, South Pacific, Australia and Asia sailings on the Maasdam.
  • Caribbean, Europe, Panama Canal, Hawaii and South America itineraries on the Rotterdam.
  • Europe and Caribbean journeys on the Veendam.

All in all, 106 cruises were canceled.

Guests on canceled cruises not rescheduled to a different ship will be given a 125% future cruise credit, if paid in full, to be used by Dec. 31, 2022. Guests were also given the option to choose a full refund by July 15.

P&O sells the Oceana

Earlier this month, P&O UK confirmed the sale of one of its, the Oceana. A statement provided by Carnival Corp. spokesman Frizzell said the ship is scheduled to leave the fleet sometime this month.

“Whilst we and many of our guests will miss Oceana, her departure will allow us to focus on our remaining ships in the fleet, as capacity expands with the delivery of Iona later this year followed by her sister ship, scheduled for 2022," Paul Ludlow, president of P&O Cruises, said in the statement.

As a result of the vessel's sale, 65 sailings were canceled between October and March 2022. All guests booked on Oceana either received a 125% future cruise credit or could opt for a full refund. 

Costa Cruises transfers ownership of Costa Victoria, sold Costa neoRomantica

"Costa Crociere confirms that the ownership of Costa Victoria has been transferred to a subsidiary of Genoese company San Giorgio del Porto," Frizzell told USA TODAY Wednesday. "Costa has informed guests booked on the next Costa Victoria cruises, who will be guaranteed a re-protection in accordance with the applicable legislation.”

Eleven cruises were canceled as a result of the transfer of ownership, according to Frizzell.

Costa is also selling another ship, the Costa neoRomantica. Due to its sale, Costa estimates that around 16 sailings will be canceled, Frizzell said.

Norwegian is not planning to sell ships

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings, the parent company to Norwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises and Regent Seven Seas Cruises, is not planning to make cuts to its 28-ship fleet.

"The company has the youngest fleet of the major cruise operators and currently does not have plans to dispose of any of its ships," Andrea DeMarco, senior vice president of investor relations and corporate communications for the company told USA TODAY. 

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Royal Caribbean to recycle Pullmantur ships

Royal Caribbean has not yet announced any changes apart from the reorganization of Pullmantur Cruises, which is a joint venture between the cruise giant and Cruise Investment Holding.

Pullmantur Cruises: All ships to be recycled

Pullmantur Cruises, which is 49% owned by Royal Caribbean and 51% owned by Cruises Investment Holding, filed to reorganize, claiming insolvency under Spanish law as the line is unable to pay its debts. 

The three ships have been returned to the Royal Caribbean fleet as Pullmantur was leasing them from the cruise giant. 

"We are recycling the ships,” Jonathon Fishman, spokesman for Royal Caribbean, told USA TODAY.

The cruise line has canceled scheduled sailings on its three-ship fleet, which includes the Horizon, the Sovereign and Monarch, through Nov. 15. In an announcement on its website, Royal Caribbean Group said that all guests who had been booked on a Pullmantur itinerary have the option to reschedule on other Royal Caribbean cruise lines, including Royal Caribbean International and Celebrity Cruises.

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