Carnival Corp. Places Major 5-Ship Order

September 23, 2004
In an expected move -- that's still surprising in its largess -- Carnival Corp. has placed a multi-billion dollar order for the construction of four new ships and a major re-design and expansion of one other that's already on the order books. All ships will be built at various shipyards operated by Fincantieri, the Italian ship-building conglomerate.

First: Cunard's 85,000-ton, 1,850-passenger Queen Victoria, which had been slated to debut in January 2007 as a junior version of Queen Mary 2, will undergo a significant redesign. The ship will be lengthened by 11 meters, tonnage will be increased to 90,000, and passenger capacity will jump to 2,000. The ship's delivery will now occur in the summer of 2007. Carnival Corp. maestro Micky Arison, in the company statement, called the "re-engineered Queen Victoria ... Cunard's SuperLiner of the Future." Queen Victoria will be built at Fincantieri's Marghera shipyard.

Princess Cruises will get a new Caribbean Princess-class ship. The 116,000-ton, 3,110-passenger vessel will be built at Fincantieri's Monfalcone shipyard and will be delivered in the spring of 2007. This ship will cost Carnival $525 million.

Carnival Cruise Lines will get an addition to its Conquest class of vessels. The new 110,000 ton ship will be built at Fincantieri's Sestri yard. Launch date is set for the spring of 2007. The price tag, slightly lower than that for the larger "Caribbean Princess," comes in at $500 million.

The other ships included in the agreement have not yet been designated to one of the Carnival Corp. lines. Sizewise, the contract stipulates one will be 110,000 tons and carry 3,000 passengers while the other is a 116,000-ton, 3,100-passenger ship. Both are slated for delivery in spring of 2008.

Following are a couple of factoids about this deal we think are pretty interesting:

Those lines that haven't recently been awarded new ships by parent Carnival Corp. for delivery in the 2007/2008 time frame include Costa, Holland America, Windstar, Seabourn, P&O and Swan Hellenic. It would appear, though, that sizewise and costwise, the only cruise company in line for a new delivery (beyond the aforementioned Princess and Carnival) could be Costa.

None of these ships are prototypes -- i.e. brand-new, first-time-ever designs (as with Queen Mary 2). Instead they are follow-up orders for existing models. Queen Victoria is a "sort of" prototype, but is based on Holland America's Vista class of ships. You may recall that vessel was originally intended to be built as a Vista class ship for HAL.

There is a glimmer of hope for fans of new ship designs. Carnival has confirmed its developing what it calls "The Pinnacle Project" -- a prototype for Carnival Cruise Lines -- that is reputed to be the company's latest effort to develop the cruise industry's biggest-ship-ever-built. No commitments were made there, however.

None of the new ships just ordered have been named, save for Queen Victoria. Typically ships are given monikers one to two years prior to launch date.