No fun for these ships: Carnival says 4 vessels won’t come back when cruising resumes

Jul 24, 2020

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Make that four Carnival Cruise Line ships that won’t be returning to service when cruising resumes.

The Miami-based cruise giant on Thursday said two of its 27 vessels would leave its fleet immediately and two more are being put into long-term storage.

The moves will reduce the number of ships that Carnival operates by about 15%.

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The two vessels leaving the Carnival fleet immediately are the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fantasy and 2,056-passenger Carnival Inspiration.

TPG in recent days has reported that both of the ships were on the way to a ship-scrapping town in Turkey, but Carnival until now wouldn’t confirm that they were leaving the line.

Carnival Fantasy cruise ship
Unveiled in 1990, Carnival Fantasy is the oldest ship in the Carnival fleet. (Photo by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line).

The two ships going into long-term storage — known in the cruise world as a “long-term layup” — are the 2,056-passenger Carnival Fascination and 2,056-passenger Carnival Imagination.

“Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination will move to a long term lay-up status, with no specific timeline identified for a return to operation”, Carnival said Thursday in a statement.

Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Fascination and Carnival Imagination are among Carnival’s oldest vessels. They all are part of the line’s Fantasy Class of ships that rolled out between 1990 and 1998. There are eight vessels in the series in all.

Related: Another cruise line has shut down due to financial pressures  

The four ships have been sailing out of Mobile, Alabama; Long Beach, California; San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Barbados; and Long Beach, respectively.

In addition to removing the four ships from operations, Carnival will rearrange its remaining vessels once it resumes service, the line announced Thursday.

Carnival said the 2,056-passenger Carnival Sensation would move from Miami to Mobile, Alabama, to operate the itineraries previously assigned to Carnival Fantasy.

The 2,984-passenger Carnival Sunrise, in turn, will move from Fort Lauderdale’s Port Everglades to Miami to assume the itineraries previously operated by Carnival Sensation.

The Carnival Inspiration cruises off the coast of Cozumel, Mexico. The 2,052-passenger cruise ship operates year-round four- and five-day western Caribbean cruises from Tampa. (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)
The Carnival Inspiration is one of four Carnival ships that won’t be coming back when cruising resumes. (Photo by Andy Newman/Carnival Cruise Lines)

Carnival said passengers already booked on Carnival Sunrise voyages out of Port Everglades would be automatically moved onto the ship’s new sailings out of Miami.

Among other changes:

  • Carnival Fascination itineraries out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and Barbados scheduled for 2020 and 2021 have been cancelled. Carnival no longer will operate regular sailings from the port.
  • Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration sailings out of Long Beach, California, scheduled through 19 April 2021 have been cancelled.
  • Carnival Radiance will move to Long Beach in April 2021 to pick up the short cruises to Mexico previously offered by Carnival Imagination and Carnival Inspiration.

The combined moves amount to a retrenchment for Carnival in sailings to the Southern Caribbean out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and voyages to Mexico out Long Beach.

Carnival on Thursday also announced it was pushing back its target date for a return to service in Australia from 25 September to 29 October.

Carnival noted that its fleet would begin growing again next year with the arrival of Mardi Gras, its biggest ship ever. The 180,000-ton vessel is under construction at a shipyard in Finland.

Related: Carnival ship to have first roller coaster at sea 

Mardi Gras had originally been scheduled to debut this year but has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Carnival also set an arrival date — November 2022 — for an as-yet-unnamed sister ship to Mardi Gras that has been on order from the same shipyard in Finland.

“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”, Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement. “With a fleet that gives guests lots of choices in ships, home ports, destinations and features including a multitude of dining, entertainment and accommodation choices, we are very excited about the future for Carnival Cruise Line”.

Duffy said Carnival would continue to invest in the four remaining Fantasy Class ships in its fleet.

The news of the Carnival ship departures comes just two weeks after Arnold Donald, the CEO of Carnival Corporation, revealed that the company’s nine brands had arranged to remove 13 ships from their fleets in the coming months as they cut costs and reorganize in anticipation of a slow restart to cruising.

“To reduce our cash burn and have a more efficient fleet once we do resume cruising, we have aggressively shed less efficient ships”, Donald said 10 July during a conference call with Wall Street analysts to discuss quarterly earnings.

Based in Miami, Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Costa Cruises and five other brands that went into the coronavirus crisis with a combined fleet of 104 ships.

Together, the nine brands account for about 45% of all cruises taken in the world.

All nine of the Carnival Corporation brands halted departures in mid-March due to the crisis, and many have cancelled all sailings into September or October. It’s a shutdown that is unprecedented in the history of modern cruising, and it’s causing the company great financial hardship.

Donald didn’t specify which ships would leave the company’s fleets. But most of them are now known. Carnival Corporation’s Holland America brand last week announced it would remove four vessels from its fleet. The company’s U.K.-focused brand, P&O Cruises, recently said one of its vessels would depart as did the company’s Europe-focused Costa Cruises brand.

Related: A major line is scrapping a cruise ship that is just 23 years old

TPG recently published a list of 22 ships that we thought were most likely to be laid-up, sold or scrapped in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic that included both Carnival Fantasy and Carnival Inspiration as well as several ships from other Carnival Corporation brands.

Carnival on Thursday said passengers and travel agents were being notified directly about impacted sailings and cancellation policies.

Featured image by Andy Newman courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line  

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