Princess Cruises may join Carnival, Holland America in shrinking fleet size

Sep 18, 2020

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Princess Cruises may be joining the list of cruise lines shrinking in size.

The California-based cruise operator on Friday told travel agents in Australia it soon would be disposing of two of its 18 ships — the 2,000-passenger Sun Princess and 2,000-passenger Sea Princess.

Both the vessels have been based recently in Australia and draw a significant number of Australians.

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“We are writing to share the news that Sea Princess and Sun Princess have been sold and will be leaving our fleet,” the line said in a letter to the travel agents. “While it is never easy to say goodbye to any ship in our fleet, the sale of these ships will allow us to deploy newer ships enhancing our offerings for Australia cruisers.”

Still, despite the communication to travel agents, the line said in a statement to The Points Guy on Friday that the sale of the ships was not a done deal.

“Princess Cruises cannot confirm information around the sale of a ship at this time,” the statement said. “We can confirm that there are interested buyers, however, nothing has been finalized.”

The news of the possible sale comes just three days after Princess Cruises’ parent company, Carnival Corporation, revealed in a regulatory filing that its nine brands were in the process of removing at least 18 ships from their fleets. That’s three more ships than the company had previously disclosed were on the way out.

Carnival Corporation didn’t name the three additional ships at the time.

Related: How to book a cruise with points and miles 

Sun Princess
The Princess Cruises ship Sun Princess sails in Sydney Harbor. (Photo courtesy of Princess Cruises)

Carnival Corporation has been downsizing its fleets in recent months as it cuts costs and reorganizes in anticipation of a slow restart to cruising. Most cruise operations around the world have been halted since March due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Based in Miami, Carnival Corporation is the parent company of Carnival Cruise Line, Holland America, Princess Cruises, Seabourn and five other brands that went into the coronavirus crisis with a combined fleet of 104 ships.

If Princess is, indeed, selling off the two ships, it is joining several of its sister brands in downsizing.

Carnival Corporation’s Holland America brand in July announced it would dispose of four vessels — Maasdam, Veendam, Rotterdam and Amsterdam. The company’s Carnival Cruise Line brand also has announced the removal of four ships — Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration and Carnival Fascination.

Some of the ships are being sent to scrapyards while others have been sold to smaller cruise companies around the world for continued use.

Other Carnival Corporation-owned lines that have announced plans to downsize include its U.K.-focused brand, P&O Cruises, which recently said one of its vessels, Oceana, had left its fleet. The company’s Europe-focused Costa Cruises brand has disposed of three ships since January: Costa Victoria, Costa neoRomantica and Costa Atlantica. A fourth Costa ship, Costa Mediterranea, will be transferred to a new Chinese cruise line in May.

The company’s P&O Cruises Australia brand has announced the departure of two of its vessels, Pacific Aria and Pacific Dawn.

Related: Why your favorite cruise line probably isn’t going out of business

In its regulatory filing on Tuesday, Carnival Corporation suggested the vessels that are leaving are its most inefficient ships. While they have represented about 12% of capacity, they only accounted for about 3% of operating income in 2019, the company noted.

Built in 1995 and 1998, respectively, Sun Princess and Sea Princess are the oldest vessels in the Princess Cruises fleet. They’re also among the smallest ships at Princess.

Sun Princess had been scheduled to sail from Brisbane, Australia, over the coming winter before repositioning to North America for Alaska sailings. Sea Princess had been scheduled to operate a mix of short and long sailings from various Australia ports.

As of Friday, the sailings still were available for booking on the Princess website.

Additional resources for cruisers during the coronavirus outbreak:

Feature image courtesy of Princess Cruises 

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