Cruise operator Carnival Corporation has revealed plans to slim its fleet and to delay the delivery of newbuildings. The plans were discussed at last week’s presentation of Carnival’s Q” results.
In the face of the global impact of COVID-19, the company paused its guest cruise operations in mid-March and expects to resume guest operations, with ongoing collaboration from both government and health authorities, in a phased manner. Specific brands and ships are expected to return to service over time to provide guests with unmatched joyful vacations in a manner consistent with the company’s highest priorities, which are compliance, environmental protection and the health, safety and well-being of its guests, crew and the communities its ships visit.
AIDA previously announced it will resume guest cruise operations from ports in Germany beginning August 2020 with three of its ships, making it the first of the company’s nine cruise brands to resume guest cruise operations. AIDA will introduce additional safety and protective measures which will include pre-boarding health questionnaires and temperature checks for both guests and crew, physical distancing guidelines, routing systems on arrival, departure and onboard, increased mitigation and sanitation efforts in all cabins and public areas, as well as closely managing capacities at onboard experiences. These enhanced measures have been developed with advice from medical experts and align with the current guidance from the WHO and the German Robert Koch Institute as well as other governmental and health authorities.
Carnival expects future capacity to be moderated by the phased re-entry of its ships, the removal of capacity from its fleet and delays in new ship deliveries. As previously announced, the company intends to accelerate the removal of ships in fiscal 2020 which were previously expected to be sold over the ensuing years. The company sold one ship during June 2020 and has agreements for the disposal of five ships and preliminary agreements for an additional three ships, all of which are expected to leave the fleet in the next 90 days. These agreements are in addition to the sale of four ships, which were announced prior to fiscal 2020. In total, the 13 ships expected to leave the fleet represent a nearly 9% reduction in current capacity. The company currently expects only five of the nine ships originally scheduled for delivery in fiscal 2020 and fiscal 2021 will be delivered prior to the end of fiscal year 2021. In addition, the company expects later deliveries of ships originally scheduled for fiscal 2022 and 2023.
Carnival Corporation & plc President and Chief Executive Officer Arnold Donald noted, “We have been transitioning the fleet into a prolonged pause and right sizing our shoreside operations. We have already reduced operating costs by over $7Bn on an annualised basis and reduced capital expenditures also by more than $5Bn over the next 18 months. We have secured over $10Bn of additional liquidity to sustain another full year with additional flexibility remaining. We have aggressively shed assets while actively deferring new ship deliveries. We are working hard to resume operations while serving the best interests of public health with our way forward informed through consultation with medical experts and scientists from around the world.”
Donald added, “We will emerge a leaner, more efficient company to optimise cash generation, pay down debt and position us to return to investment grade credit over time providing strong returns to our shareholders.”
Throughout the pause in cruise operations, the company said it has been consulting and assembling the best minds in medical science, public health and infectious disease. These individuals include a robust line-up of world renowned medical, epidemiology and public health experts to provide the company with the latest science and medical evidence to inform practical, adaptable and science-based solutions for detection, prevention and mitigation of COVID-19.
In coordination with the World Travel and Tourism Council, Carnival is hosting an online Global Scientific Summit on COVID-19 on July 28, a forum which is open to the public and free of charge. Speakers and panellists include the company’s expert advisors, representing a diverse range of science, research and business backgrounds, including amongst others, members of Scientists to Stop COVID-19, who have volunteered to participate. To register for the Summit, please go to CovidScienceSummit.com.