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There has been a lot of talk about the ship construction slowdown during the past few years, and a lot of attention paid, with reason, to major refurbishments. Nevertheless, industry giant Carnival Corporation & Plc has ambitious plans to increase the capacity of its fleet by nearly 10 percent through 2016. The expansion is fueled by four new ships across four brands in less than 18 months.
The recent momentum with Regal Princess and Costa Diadema (both christened within three days of each other) is continuing next year in the U.K. market, with P&O Cruises’ new 3,600-passenger Britannia and Aida’s new 3,250-guest Aidaprima. The Britannia will be the largest ship built for the British market, fed by Michelin-starred chefs.
Since the nine brands (Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Aida Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Ibero Cruises and P&O Cruises) operate independently for the most part, it is easy forget the sheer size of Carnival Corp., which encompasses more than 100 cruise ships. The company has added 30 new ships to its global fleet since 2007, with another seven vessels scheduled for delivery between 2015 and 2017.
Clearly, 2016 is a very big year: Carnival Cruise Lines will debut the 3,954-guest Carnival Vista, and Holland America Line will launch its newest and largest ship, the Koningsdam, a new Pinnacle Class ship that can carry 2,650 passengers. Also in 2016, Aida will introduce a new sister ship to the 2015 Aidaprima with capacity for 3,250 passengers, while Seabourn will unveil its newest luxury ship. It will be the largest ship built by Seabourn, with the ability to serve 604 passengers.
In 2017, Princess Cruises will add another sister to its most recent Royal Princess and Regal Princess.
Refurbishments and upgrades to establish as much fleet consistency as possible follow the introduction of new vessels. Next year, 17 Carnival Corp ships across the brands will receive substantial refurbishment.
Carnival Corp.’s huge buying power gives the company negotiating advantage in shipbuilding and refurbishment, as well as provisioning, furnishing, fuel and sharing best practices. CEO Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corp., believes the new ships draw renewed interest and help to grow the cruise market — a win-win for consumers and the company.