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Finally, some good cruise news: Carnival is adding more ships to its fleet

June 23, 2021
4 min read
Carnival Mardi Gras
Finally, some good cruise news: Carnival is adding more ships to its fleet
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Carnival Cruise Line is shifting back into expansion mode.

After a year of downsizing brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the world's second-largest largest cruise line on Wednesday said it would add two more ships than expected to its fleet by the end of 2023.

Carnival currently has 24 vessels and is scheduled to take delivery of a 25th -- the 5,282-passenger Carnival Celebration -- from a European shipyard in late 2022.

The two new ships that will join the Carnival fleet by the end of 2023 include a sister vessel to Carnival Celebration that, until now, has been on order from the same shipyard for Germany-based Aida Cruises. Aida Cruises is a sister brand to Carnival.

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The second new vessel joining the Carnival fleet is an existing, 16-year-old vessel currently sailing for Costa Cruises, another sister line to Carnival.

Currently called Costa Magica, the 2,718-passenger vessel was built on the same platform as Carnival's Sunshine Class ships (Carnival Sunshine, Carnival Sunrise and Carnival Radiance). It thus has an interior design and feel that's very similar to those vessels.

Carnival said Costa Magica would receive an overhaul in dry dock before joining the Carnival fleet to add Carnival touches. It'll join the Carnival fleet by the middle of 2022.

Wednesday's announcement can be seen as a sign that Carnival sees a rebound in cruising from U.S. ports coming relatively quickly. A specialist in easy-to-reach cruises from U.S. ports, Carnival hasn't operated a single voyage in 15 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But it's scheduled to restart operations with just a few vessels in the coming weeks.

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The addition of the two ships plus the already-on-order Carnival Celebration will bring the Carnival fleet to 27 ships by the end of 2023.

A new vessel joining the Carnival fleet in 2023 will be a sister to the line's Mardi Gras, pictured above, and another ship called Carnival Celebration that is arriving in 2022. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)

“We are excited about these additions to our fleet which reflect the strong position that Carnival has established in the U.S., the pent-up demand we continue to see for cruise vacations and the overall plans by Carnival Corporation to optimize capacity and growth in key markets,” Carnival president Christine Duffy said in a statement accompanying the announcement.

Duffy said the brand would announce more details soon about where the two new ships would be based and where they would sail.

Carnival's announcement comes as fast-growing MSC Cruises closes in on Carnival in terms of passenger capacity, threatening to dethrone the line as the world's second-largest cruise brand.

With 24 ships that have the capacity for 71,434 passengers, based on double occupancy, Carnival still is significantly larger than MSC Cruises. But its downsizing over the past year significantly shortened its lead over MSC Cruises when it comes to passenger capacity.

In an effort to cut costs during the coronavirus-caused industry shutdown, Carnival shed four older ships starting in July of 2020, while adding one new ship, the 5,250-passenger Mardi Gras.

MSC Cruises, by contrast, didn't lose a single ship and is adding two new vessels this year.

With the addition of the 4,842-passenger MSC Virtuosa earlier this year, MSC Cruises now has 18 ships with a capacity for 58,722 passengers, based on double occupancy. A second new MSC Cruises ship arriving in July, the 4,540-passenger MSC Seashore, will bring the line’s passenger capacity to around 63,000, based on double occupancy.

MSC Cruises has four more ships on order for delivery from 2022 to 2025 that will collectively add around 20,000 more berths to its fleet.

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Featured image by The soon-to-debut Carnival Cruise Line ship Mardi Gras departs Turku, Finland, on Sept. 28, 2020 for sea trials in the Baltic Sea. (Photo courtesy of Carnival Cruise Line)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more