The downsizing of the Carnival Corporation cruise ship fleet is continuing with the announcement of the sale of the smallest cruise ship operating in the Princess Cruises fleet. Today’s announcement of an additional sale brings to 18 the number of ships Carnival has sold, representing nearly 20 percent of its pre-pandemic fleet.
Princess Cruises announced that the 30,000 gross ton Pacific Princess has been sold to an undisclosed buyer. The sale of the ship, which is currently in the Mediterranean sailing off the coast of Italy, is part of Princess’ parent company’s strategy to accelerate the removal of “less efficient ships” from the corporate fleet.
Built in France in 1999, the Pacific Princess had originally entered service as the R Three, one of a series of new cruise ships being built for Renaissance Cruises. Seeking to capture the popularity of the movie Titanic, the ships featured elements of Edwardian design. Accommodating 670 passengers their size made them popular as the industry was moving toward larger cruise ships. Renaissance Cruises, however, filed for bankruptcy in 2001 just days after the 9/11 terror attacks.
The fleet of eight smaller cruise ships was parceled out to a series of different cruise lines, with Princess Cruises initially taking over two of the ships, renamed Pacific Princess and Tahitian Princess, later renamed Ocean Princess. While a fraction of the size of the larger Princess Cruise ships these sisters were popular because of their smaller size and unique itineraries. At one point, Princess had three of the sister ships in its fleet. Princess Cruises sold the Ocean Princess in 2016 to Oceania Cruises, another cruise company that had been established using sister ships from the Renaissance fleet. The third ship, known as the Royal Princess when it sailed for Princess was operated by several Carnival brands before being sold to Azamara Cruises.
Princess Cruises had continued to operate the Pacific Princess using it in part for longer length cruises. According to Princess, the ship sailed more than 1.6 million nautical miles, including 11 world cruises for the company during her nearly 20-year career. When Princess announced it was suspending cruising in March 2020, the Pacific Princess was in the Indian Ocean on its world cruise. The ship returned to Fremantle, Australia, where all but 115 passengers disembarked. The Pacific Princess then sailed back to California with the remaining passengers who the company said were unable to make the long-distance flights from Australia. Arriving back in California on April 20, the Pacific Princess was one of the last cruise ships to disembark passengers.
The Pacific Princess becomes the eighteenth ship sold by Carnival Corporation as part of its effort to reduce costs and improve efficiency in its fleet when the lines return to service. She is also the third ship sold by Princess Cruises during this current downsizing. The other ships have come from the fleets of Carnival Cruise Line, Costa Cruises, Holland America Line, and P&O in both England and Australia. Speaking to investors at the beginning of January, Carnival Corporation CEO Arnold Donald said they currently plan to sell a total of 19 ships, which represented 13 percent of the company’s capacity but only three percent of operating income. The sales are also being offset by new ship deliveries. P&O in England, Princess, and Costa have each taken delivery of new cruise ships in recent months and Holland America is scheduled to take delivery on its new cruise ship in the summer. Princess Cruises has another new cruise ship under construction at Fincantieri in Italy as well as two new LNG-powered prototype ships on order.
Speculation is rampant on the identity of the buyer of the Pacific Princess. Earlier this week, Royal Caribbean Group announced it was also selling its three R Class ships as part of the acquisition of its Azamara Cruises brand by a private equity firm. The four other ships of the class are owned by Oceania Cruises.
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