In the market for an abandoned cruise ship? Carnival Corp. — the parent company of nine cruise brands, including Princess, Costa, and Carnival — announced in a third-quarter earnings filing that it plans to sell 18 cruise ships in 2020, which amounts to 17 percent of the company’s ships.
The move comes amid a halt in cruises since March, when the lines stopped sailing the day before a no-sail order went into effect in the United States.
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Carnival Corp. has already sold eight older-model cruise ships. It has not disclosed the cruise lines the ships are from or to whom they are being sold. The company will also delay delivery of new ships scheduled for 2021 as a cost-saving measure.
“We are in the process of removing 18 ships from our global fleet with several ships already removed,” Carnival’s chief communications officer, Roger Frizzell, said in an email. “Given our pause in cruising, we recently moved up the timetable to remove our older, less efficient ships from our fleet. We have already sold several ships and we [are] currently in negotiations on others.”
Carnival Corp. lines account for 45 percent of the world’s cruise industry, according to the travel-focused site the Points Guy. Sixty-five passengers or staff died of covid-19 on Carnival-operated ships during the early days of the pandemic, according to the reporting by The Washington Post.
The CDC has implemented a no-sail order through September and is expected to extend the ban, which prevents cruise ships with a capacity of 250 passengers or more from operating in U.S. waters. Carnival Corp. chief executive Arnold Donald said in the filing that the sales “will generate a 12 percent reduction in capacity and a structurally lower cost base, while retaining the most cash-generative assets in our portfolio.”
[A Carnival Corp. ship had the biggest coronavirus outbreak in the industry. Now Congress is probing the company.]
Ships that are retired from cruising typically get sold to other lines, according to cruising website Cruise Critic — or they can be sent to junkyards for scrapping. The company said it has raised $12 billion since March, despite being out of operation, but experienced a net loss of $2.9 billion for the third quarter of 2020. The $12 billion was raised “through a series of financing transactions,” including borrowed amounts and deferred debt repayments. Carnival is also offering stock sales to raise capital.
“Currently, the company is unable to predict when the entire fleet will return to normal operations, and as a result, unable to provide an earnings forecast,” the filing said. “The pause in guest operations continues to have a material negative impact on all aspects of the company’s business, including the company’s liquidity, financial position and results of operations.”
But the move comes as a return to cruising already has begun in some parts of the world. Two Carnival brands have plans to restart or have already returned to operations outside the United States, according to the filing. Costa Cruises resumed sailings from Italy on Sept. 6, and Germany-based AIDA Cruises is preparing for departures in the fall.
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