December 7, 2000
Carnival Cruises’ announcement that it is transferring the 1,022-passenger Tropicale to sister company Costa Cruises in February -- this February -- raised a few eyebrows. Not because Costa chose the Tropicale instead of Holland America’s Westerdam, which was rather widely -- and incorrectly -- speculated on in news media outlets. The odd thing about the move is the speed with which Tropicale will abandon its regular itineraries (she’s currently doing 10-day Panama Canal voyages out of Ft. Lauderdale and had been slated to begin home-porting in Port Canaveral in late March, where she would initiate the line’s only regularly scheduled 2-day cruises). Typically, when a cruise line transfers -- or sells -- a ship, the move is announced up to a year ahead of time so as to limit passenger displacement. One of the reasons Costa selected Tropicale, however, was the possibility of a quick transfer. In this case, Tropicale’s move to shorter cruises, which typically aren’t heavily booked until closer-to-sailing, meant the ship’s move wouldn’t disrupt too many passengers. Additionally, the already-scheduled drydock in February means the ship can finish the Panama Canal voyages and then move right into overhaul mode, getting the ship in shape for a more European crowd. It will be ready in time for spring/summer sailings in Europe, prime time for Costa. Carnival is not planning, at this point, anyway, to replace Tropicale in Port Canaveral (Fantasy continues to homeport there) and the regular two-day “experiment” will be shelved for now.