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Carnival ends newbuild drought by ordering Excel-class cruise ship for 2027

The newly ordered ship for Carnival Cruise Line will be the sister of 2023's Carnival Jubilee, shown here
Carnival Corp. & plc ordered a fourth Excel-class ship for Carnival Cruise Line at Meyer Werft to be delivered in 2027.

It is the 180,000gt sister of sister of 2023's Carnival Jubilee.

This follows the company's recent confirmation to Seatrade Cruise News that newbuild talks were ongoing with the first delivery probably in 2027.

Dearth of pandemic-era orders

It ends the drought of pandemic-era orders by the major cruise operators. Only NYK Cruises had ordered during the pandemic, also at Meyer Werft. Last September, MSC Group's cruise division firmed options for two ships, completing its planned six-ship series for Explora Journeys.

'We are very pleased that the partnership between the Meyer Group and Carnival Corporation will continue with this new order,' said Bernd Eikens, CEO, Meyer Group.

Since 2018, Meyer Werft and Meyer Turku have built nine cruise ships with LNG propulsion on a joint technical platform for four cruise lines in the Carnival Corp. portfolio. This continues the series. The 344-meter ship will have capacity for more than 6,400 passengers.

Clear sign of recovery

'This order is a clear sign that the cruise market has recovered and that there is great demand for sea voyages,' added Thomas Weigend, chief sales officer, Meyer Group.

'Building on our strong performance and growing momentum around the world, we are excited to resume our newbuild program and work to further enhance our global fleet with yet another state-of-the-art Meyer Werft ship that will wow Carnival Cruise Line’s guests,'said Josh Weinstein, CEO of Carnival Corp. & plc.

Four newbuilds now

After the impending hand over of Sun Princess, followed by Cunard Line's Queen Anne in April, Carnival's orderbook had been set to conclude with Star Princess in 2025. All three ships are from Fincantieri.

No Carnival Corp. deliveries are coming in 2026.

Carnival's only expected 2027 newbuild

'With one newbuild scheduled for delivery in 2025, none for 2026, and this order being our only expected newbuild in 2027, our responsible capital approach will support utilizing our substantial free cash flow over the next several years to strategically improve our balance sheet, significantly reduce our leverage levels and continue to transfer value from debt holders to shareholders,' Weinstein said.

'We are following through on our measured capacity growth strategy with the addition of one to two ships per year beginning in 2027, which will be allocated to our cruise lines that most need the capacity to satisfy outsized demand, delivering an attractive payback period,' he continued. 'We also remain focused on driving revenue growth throughout our portfolio of world-class cruise lines by continuing to improve execution across all aspects of our operation, yielding higher return on invested capital.' 

Meyer Werft's orderbook now includes five cruise ships, one research vessel and the steel construction for four offshore converter platforms.