Carnival and Fincantieri to Break Cruise Order Drought with Record $5B Deal

Carnival cruise ship construction
Carnival is rumored to be close to an order for cruise ships larger than the Sun Princess curretnly being completed in Italy (Princess Cruises)

Published Jan 16, 2024 8:14 PM by The Maritime Executive


Carnival Corporation and Fincantieri are rumored to be putting the finishing touches on a massive $5 billion new cruise ship construction order that would break the drought on large cruise ship orders that has been in place since the pandemic struck in 2020. If completed, it would be a record-breaking order both in the size of the cruise ships, the largest yet built in Italy, and the highest dollar-value contract reiterating leadership in the cruise industry.

After breaking the 100,000 gross ton mark for the first time in the cruise industry with the Carnival Destiny in 1996, Carnival has generally not focused on size. According to the information reported in the Italian news outlet Il Secolo XiX, Carnival however is set to break the 200,000 gross ton mark, becoming only the third cruise company to reach that size. Royal Caribbean has its Oasis and now Icon classes and MSC Cruises is beginning its World Class. Disney will also enter the select group when it launches the approximately 208,000 gross ton former Global Dream rechristened Disney Adventure in 2025.

Fincantieri CEO Pierroberto Folgiero has said that the company is working on new orders and they expect the cruise industry, which makes up more than half of the company’s revenues, to return with new orders. While taking orders for new smaller luxury cruise ships and working on completing an orderbook that includes large ships for Princess Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, and TUI’s Mein Schiff, Folgiero has been quoted saying something bigger was in the works and would be likely ready by early 2024. Shipping Italy reports Carnival Corporation executives met with Fincantieri in October during the 75th-anniversary celebration for Costa Crociere and again in December.  

Il Secolo XiX reports the order will be initially for four vessels valued at more than $5 billion while Shipping Italy speculates the total contract could be around $7 billion. The first of the new ships which would be 208,000 gross tons would be for Carnival Cruise Line and due in late 2028 or early 2029. They speculate the ship would have a capacity for 7,000 passengers and over 2,500 crew. 

Carnival Cruise Line recently took delivery on three new LNG dual-fuel 182,800 gross ton cruise ships, Mardi Gras, Carnival Celebration, and last month Carnival Juiblee, built by Meyer in Germany and Finland. The new vessels would be nearly 14 percent larger, but there is no word if they would be LNG-fueled or use other alternative fuels. Further, Carnival Cruise Line and Costa have shared platforms with speculation some of the new ships would go to the Italian brand to begin to restore it after a significant downsizing post-pandemic.

The new ships would also be nearly 20 percent bigger than the largest cruise ships built by Fincantieri. Currently, the two MSC Cruises EVO ships, MSC Seascape and MSC Seashore (170,400 gross tons), are the largest cruise ships completed in Italy. That tile is scheduled to fall next month when Carnival Corporation’s Sun Princess for Princess Cruises is delivered as both Italy’s largest cruise ship (175,500 gross tons) and the first LNG-fueled cruise ship completed by Fincantieri. 

Il Secolo XiX points out that only Fincantieri’s Monfalcone, Italy shipyard would be able to handle ships of this size. They speculate that an order of this magnitude would also provide a boost to contractors and related businesses in the Trieste region of Italy. 

Carnival Corporation admits its orderbook has fallen to a modern low following the pandemic. Having taken delivery of the Seabourn Pursuit (23,000 gross tons) and Carnival Jubilee in 2023, the company currently only has Sun Princess and her sister ship Star Princess, which just began construction and is due in 2025, and Cunard’s Queen Anne (113,000 gross tons) due in 2024, currently on order. With the strong rebound in cruise bookings in 2023, it is logical Carnival would begin placing newbuild orders.