Carnival Corp. orders 9 ships to be built from 2019 to 2022

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By Johanna Jainchill
Carnival Corp. said Thursday that it would add nine ships to its fleet between 2019 and 2022.

Carnival offered almost no details about the ship order. It did not specify which of its nine brands would get the new vessels or offer any information about their size, design or cost.

In a statement, Carnival said the new ships were expected to serve the North American, European and Chinese cruise markets, would be specifically designed and developed for their particular brands and would be the most efficient ships in Carnival history.

“We’re excited to take this next step in our fleet-enhancement plan with these two new agreements that are consistent with our long-term strategy of measured capacity growth over time,” Carnival Corp. President and CEO Arnold Donald said in a statement.

The order is in line with Donald’s previous statements indicating that the company would restrict its growth to two to three ships per year across its fleet.

Carnival said it had signed memorandums of agreement with Italy’s Fincantieri shipyard to build five of the vessels and with Germany’s Meyer Werft to build four.

Additional information about the ships, such as their design and which brands they will be built for, will be revealed at a later date, Carnival said.

In announcing the new builds, the company indicated that Donald would be offering additional details about the new vessels during Carnival Corp.’s earnings call on Friday.

Carnival Corp. is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Seabourn, Aida Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, P&O Cruises (Australia) and P&O Cruises (U.K.).

Late last year it ordered one ship each from Fincantieri for Carnival Cruise Line and Holland America Line for delivery in 2018.

The company has added more than 30 ships to its combined fleets since 2007, and it has another nine scheduled to be delivered between 2015 and 2018, which Donald pointed out in December was about one vessel for each of its brands over the next four years.

This year, Carnival is adding two ships to its global fleet and removing four. The new vessels are P&O’s Britannia, which launched earlier this month, and the Aida Prima, set to debut later this year.

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Cruise & Maritime Voyages adds new vessel to fleet

Cruise & Maritime Voyages adds new vessel to fleetThe 600-passenger ship Astor has been acquired by Cruise & Maritime Voyages.

The vessel, which was built in 1986, was refurbished four years ago and has been bought from bankrupt German owner, Premicon Hochseekreuzfahrt.

CMV, which had been chartering the 21,000 tonne vessel, is reported to be in the final negotiations of the purchase agreement.

Astor will return to Australia for its 2015-16 season, which will be its third year based at Fremantle.

The season will include an Asian cruise from Fremantle to Hong Kong with stops in Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Sabah, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia.

Astor originally joined the CMV fleet in December 2013 under a charter with ship management services provided by CMV’s majority shareholder, Global Maritime Group, which has acquired the vessel.

Astor will operate under long-term charter to CMV.

Christian Verhounig, chief executive and chairman of CMV, said: “The acquisition of the Astor is another important milestone in the strategic development of the group’s presence in the international markets.

“Astor has a fine pedigree and provides an important smaller ship premium option within our cruise portfolio,”

CMV commercial director Chris Coates said: “Astor has added 22,000 passengers to our global carryings and since her introduction has proved a firm favourite with high levels of customer satisfaction and repeat business being achieved.

“Next year we have programmed a special eight-night ex-London Tilbury round Britain cruise before Astor starts her German market season and forward booking levels are very encouraging”.

Astor arrived in Fremantle on Saturday following a 38 night re-positioning voyage from Tilbury and will continue to operate cruises under the CMV brand for the Australian market during the southern hemisphere summer season.

The ship will then reposition to Europe in April 2015 to operate a summer season of ex-Kiel and Bremerhaven sailings for the German market under the TransOcean brand.

Which new river vessels are you most excited about?

By Michelle Baran

InsightIt just sunk in: A ton of brand new river cruise vessels are about to launch in March and April (my Outlook calendar is blowing up). I’ve been writing about the upcoming christenings all year, but now that the launches are upon us, I’m finally thinking about the actual new hardware we’re about to see and some of the developments to be on the lookout for.

Here are some points of interest:

On March 26, Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection will inaugurate the 159-passenger S.S. Catherine in Lyon, France, marking Uniworld’s first expansion of its European fleet since 2011, when the vessel’s sister ship the S.S. Antoinette set sail.

Uniworld has a history of going all-out on its interiors — and judging by the early photos and renderings of the Catherine, this vessel will be no exception. A Leopard Lounge with safari-themed details? A mosaic-tiled pool and spa area? Have you seen those black-and-white stateroom interiors on their website? Needless to say, the vessel promises to be a feast for the senses.MichelleBaran

Totally switching gears, on March 31 the 220-passenger paddlewheeler American Empress (formerly the Empress of the North) will be reincarnated by the American Queen Steamboat Co., bringing back a vessel to the Pacific Northwest that was built in 2003 and that has been laid up since the end of Majestic America Line in 2008. Steamboat enthusiasts and historians will surely be curious as to how well the company pulls off its resuscitation effort.

And let’s not forget that an entirely new river cruise line is launching in April: Emerald Waterways, Scenic Tours’ four-star European river cruising project.
I’m intrigued by the heated swimming pool with retractable roof and movie theater that are slated to be features of the 182-passenger Emerald Star and the 182-passenger Emerald Sky, which will set sail on April 15. I’m envisioning Starwood’s Aloft brand in river cruising form.

Speaking of mass brands, we can’t leave out Viking’s 14-ship-strong launch taking place in France in March. Will the new batch of Longships really be identical to their sister ship predecessors? Or will there be some new little personality and amenity tweaks to the 2014 flock?

And also, I’m curious how Viking will pull off a 14-vessel simul-christening. My best guess is live broadcasts from multiple launch sites. But Viking is good at surprises. They’ve been awfully quiet about the launches, and that could mean a lot of different things. It’s a nail-biter to be sure.