A major cruise liner with only 23 years of service has been earmarked for the scrap heap amid a coronavirus-driven downturn for the leisure shipping industry.
Following an announcement by cruise giant Carnival Corporation that it expects to remove several vessels from its fleet, it’s emerged that one of these could be the Costa Victoria, a 2,394-passenger capacity ship that debuted in 1996.
While Carnival has yet to identify any of the ships set for decommissioning, the Costa Victoria’s fate was called into question when the mayor of Italian town Piombino, Francesco Ferrari, announced on Facebook that the ship had arrived there to be prepared for demolition.
Ferrari said he’d welcomed the ship’s captain, Gianfranco La Fauci, to the city on Tuesday morning and celebrated the moment as a step forward in Piombino’s economic recovery.
Costa Victoria was mid-voyage when the Covid-19 pandemic hit earlier this year. The 827-foot vessel arrived in Civitavecchia, in Italy, on March 25, where passengers were quarantined.
Earlier in the voyage, a passenger had tested positive for coronavirus and got off the ship in Greece. Another passenger passed away from Covid-19 upon returning home from Italy to Australia.
Carnival Corporation recently announced in a press release detailing its second quarter financial summary that it anticipates removing six ships from its fleet over the next few months.
“The company already has preliminary agreements for the disposal of six ships which are expected to leave the fleet in the next 90 days and is currently working toward additional agreements,” the statement said.
In the report, Carnival also discussed the economic impact of a string of canceled cruises.
“The pause in guest operations is continuing to have material negative impacts on all aspects of the company’s business. The longer the pause in guest operations continues the greater the impact on the company’s liquidity and financial position.”
The statement said Carnival expected “phased re-entry of its ships, the removal of capacity from its fleet and delays in new ship deliveries.”
When contacted by CNN Travel for confirmation on whether Costa Victoria was one of the ships due to be sold, Carnival Corporation spokesperson Roger Frizzell said: “We have not yet announced the names or any details regarding the six ships at this point.”
When cruise ships retire
It’s not a good time for the cruise industry: cruises are canceled through the summer following the Covid-19-induced widespread halting of sailings.
There’s been widespread discussion about thousands of crew members awaiting repatriation and the subsequent impact on crew mental health.
Usually, if a big-name brand like Carnival decides a ship is no longer needed, it’ll likely sell it on to a smaller company which will rebrand the vessel. The ship could then sail on for years to come.
But in the current climate, cruise companies aren’t as likely to be investing in new vessels.
Take Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV) a British cruise company that operates several older ships originally built for other cruise lines.
The fleet includes MV Vasco da Gama – which hit the headlines back in March when passengers were quarantined in Australia’s Rottnest Island in the wake of the pandemic. Vasco da Gama, built in 1993, was previously Holland America’s Statendam and P&O Cruises Australia’s Pacific Eden.
CMV also operates the Marco Polo, from 1965, plus the MV Astoria, the oldest cruise ship in operation dating back to 1948. Astoria was due to retire this year.
CMV also operates a former Carnival ship, MS Magellan, previously known as Carnival Holiday.
The UK Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) announced on Monday that it had sequestered five CMV ships, including Vasco da Gama, Astoria and Marco Polo, due to concerns about crew welfare and late payment of wages.