Carnival expects up to 75% of capacity to resume sailing before end of year

Nearly a year and a half after the cruise industry halted operations because of Covid-19, Carnival Corp, a somewhat thinned down but still the largest cruise line industry in the world, has said that it hoped to have up to 75% of fleet capacity in operation by the end of 2021.

Five of the company’s brands are currently in operation. That will expand to eight brands in the coming days and weeks. Operations in Asia and Australia remain suspended with no target dates to resume sailing.

Carnival Corporation first resumed operations with Costa Cruises and then Aida, both Europe-based. Now it is looking to restart in its main market, the US. Carnival Cruise Line has resumed US operations with cruises from Galveston and Miami, and most recently from Seattle. Holland America Line and Princess Cruises were also due to restart their first ships sailing to Alaska in the next few days.

Carnival Brand P&O UK (not to be confused with P&O Australia, also Carnival owned, but a separate operation from the UK business). has begun UK cruises. Seabourn Cruise Line is sailing in the Caribbean and Mediterranean. Costa and Aida have added to the number of ships that are in service.

Of the company’s other brands, Cunard Line has delayed its restart until August after crew aboard its ship the Queen Elizabeth tested positive for Covid-19.

China, which had been one of the fastest-growing markets for the cruise industry, remained closed for the international cruise lines. In Australia where Carnival plans to rebuild operations after selling ships from P&O Australia, no date has been set for cruises to resume.

Carnival Corp became a leaner operation during 2020. It sold 19 cruise ships bringing its fleet down to 87.

Currently, the brands of Carnival Corporation have either restarted or scheduled the restart for a total of 54 ships by the end of 2021, equal to 65% of its 223,000 berth capacity.

During the next phase of the company’s phased restart of cruise operations, Carnival expects to expand operations from its US homeports. Carnival Cruise Line has announced plans to bring nine additional cruise ships back into service. Those ships would bring the corporation’s total to 63 cruise ships and approximately 75% of the total fleet capacity. Carnival’s brands have also announced plans to resume cruises in Central America, the Persian Gulf, and to Antarctica.

Carnival Corporation also has 14 new cruise ships on order due for delivery by 2025, with four of them scheduled for delivery during the second half of 2021. This would add nearly 14,000 berths to its cruise operations.