Carnival Corporation & plc (NYSE/LSE: CCL; NYSE: CUK) today announced that its Italian brand, Costa Cruises, will build two new cruise ships as part of an agreement with Meyer Werft to construct four next-generation cruise ships with the largest guest capacity in the world. In June, Carnival Corporation announced the other two ships included in this multi-billion dollar contract are destined for its German brand, AIDA Cruises.
The two new ships for Costa Cruises will be built by shipbuilder Meyer Werft at the company's shipyard in Turku, Finland, with deliveries expected in 2019 and 2020. Each new cruise ship will exceed 180,000 gross tons, offering more than 2,600 passenger cabins and 5,200 lower berths to comfortably accommodate a total capacity of 6,600 guests. A major part of Carnival Corporation's new ship design involves making more efficient use of the ship's spaces, which includes multi-functional common areas and plans for more personal space, creating an enhanced onboard guest experience.
Carnival Corporation's four next-generation cruise ships for Costa Cruises and AIDA Cruises will be the first in the industry to be powered at sea by Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), the world's cleanest burning fossil fuel, representing a major environmental breakthrough. Pioneering a new era in the use of sustainable fuels, these new ships will use LNG to generate 100 percent of the ship's power both in port and on the open sea – an industry-first innovation that will significantly reduce exhaust emissions to help protect the environment and support the company's aggressive sustainability goals.
The four-ship contract with Meyer Werft is part of a larger previously announced strategic memo of understanding with leading shipbuilders Meyer Werft and Fincantieri S.p.A for nine new ship orders between 2019 and 2022. As previously announced, construction of the two new ships for AIDA Cruises will take place at Meyer Werft's shipbuilding facility in Papenburg, Germany.
"These new ships will be phenomenal additions to our fleet, and we're looking forward to seeing our Costa and AIDA brands bring this ground-breaking new ship design to life for our guests in a way that is customized for each brand," said Arnold Donald, CEO of Carnival Corporation. "As we continue enhancing our fleet, it is very important to us that every decision we make in the development of these new ships is about the guest experience, which supports our goal to exceed guest expectations and create great vacation memories for every person who boards one of our ships."
Donald added: "Above all, these strategic investments are designed to exceed the vacation needs of our guests, but it is also important to note that these next-generation ships are an important part of our measured growth strategy, which includes replacing less efficient ships with newer, larger and more efficient vessels over a very specific period of time."
The new Costa Cruises ships will prominently feature the brand's "Italy's finest" experience, with the new ship designs and creative uses of space serving to enhance the overall onboard immersion in Italian culture. The ships and crew will serve as ambassadors for the finest of Italian society on the seas, enabling guests to discover Italy's unique style, hospitality, entertainment and culinary excellence.
The new contract also supports the community-focused efforts of Carnival Corporation and Costa Cruises to invest in Italy as a key market in which the company operates. According to forecasts from Costa Cruises, more than 650 crewmembers are expected to be hired to work on the two new ships.
"We are honored that Carnival Corporation has entrusted us with the implementation of this ambitious shipbuilding program," said Bernard Meyer, CEO of Meyer Werft. "These ships represent the next generation of cruise ship innovation, featuring a revolutionary 'green cruising' design implemented to meet the specific needs of guests who sail with the Costa and AIDA brands."
The new ship order will also enable the Costa Group, which includes a combined 25 ships across the AIDA and Costa brands, to continue to build on its leadership position in the European cruise market. In 2014, one out of every two cruise guests in Europe, or about 50 percent, sailed onboard a Costa or AIDA cruise ship. In total, the Costa Group has 27,000 employees working onboard its ships and in its 20 offices in 14 countries, serving a total capacity of 68,000 beds across its fleet.
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