Who’s Who Part I: Carnival Corporation

With all of the different brands of cruise lines out there, I thought it might be appropriate to break down the lines and help you understand who the parent companies are and what their sub-brands are best known for. This Weekly Wednesday article will dig up some minor brands which you may not have ever heard before. All of the information is current as the of the time this article was published.

This post will be released in smaller parts over the next several weeks. Links will be activated once the subsequent entries have been posted.

(This article) Carnival Corporation & plcAIDA Cruises, Carnival Cruise Line, Carnival CSSC, Costa Cruises, Cunard Line, Holland America Line, P&O Cruises, P&O Cruises Australia, Princess Cruises, Seabourn Cruise Line

(Part II) Royal Caribbean GroupAzamara, Celebrity Cruises, Royal Caribbean International, Silversea Cruises

(Part III) TUI GroupHapag-Lloyd Cruises, Marella Cruises, TUI Cruises

(Part IV) Norwegian Cruise Line HoldingsNorwegian Cruise Line, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises

(Part V) Genting Hong KongCrystal Cruises, Dream Cruises, Star Cruises

(Part VI) Other Cruise Lines – Bahamas Paradise Cruise LineDisney Cruise lineFred. Olsen Cruise LinesMSC CruisesSaga CruisesVikingVirgin Voyages

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Carnival Corporation & PLC

Carnival Corporation was founded as Carnival Cruise Line in 1972 and saw steady growth through the 1980s. Carnival plc came about in 2003 when Carnival Corporation acquired P&O Princess Cruises plc. Now composed of two companies, the Panama-incorporated Carnival Corporation is based in the US, and Carnival plc is based in the UK. The combined company is the world’s largest travel leisure company containing over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands. Both companies function as one entity and are listed on their respective country’s stock exchange (S&P 500 and FTSE 250).

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AIDA Cruises

Founded in 1960 as Deutsche Seereederei (German Shipping Company), the company entered the cruise industry with a ship called Volkerfreundschaft (“Peoples’ Friendship”). Coinciding with the reunification of Germany in the early 1990s, Deutsche Seereederei became DSR, acquiring Seetours of Bremen with cruises marketed under the Seetours brand. Following a split of operations with a new company called Arkona Touristik, in 2000 the new name was given, AIDA Cruises, with P&O Cruises holding 51% stake in the new organization and Arkona Touristik retaining the remaining 49%. By 2001, P&O Princess Cruises acquired the other 49%, getting rid of the Seetours name altogether by the time of the merger with Carnival Corporation.

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Carnival Cruise Line

In 1972, Ted Arison created a new cruise line called Carnival Cruise Line. He initially financed his venture with a friend who sold the company back to Arison for $1 in 1974. This forced Arison to take over the substantial company debts which allowed the company to enter into new relationships with travel agencies, promoting their cruises to fun-loving younger people – a financially successful move!

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Carnival CSSC

Originally scheduled to launch in 2019, CSSC Carnival Cruise Shipping (a Chinese-British-American cruise line) experienced delays in launching its first ship, the rebranded Costa Atlantica. The company was founded in 2015 as a joint venture between Carnival Corporation & plc and China State Shipbuilding Company (CSSC). COVID-19 has caused delays in launching the brand which currently has 2 ships from Costa waiting to enter service. Beginning in 2023 there are two newly-built ships expected to be delivered in as many years. If things going well with the first 4 ships, the line is expected to release a new ship annually through 2028.

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Costa Cruises

1854 saw the creation of Giacomo Costa fu Andrea, a cargo ship company that carried olive oils and textiles. In 1924, the company was passed to the founder’s sons which was when commercial activities were introduced with the purchase of the ship, Ravenna. In 1947, the company was renamed to Linea C. By 1948, passenger services were introduced with routes followed between Italy and South America. In 1959, the company evolved to offer more pleasure trips which included the Mediterranean and Caribbean regions. The 1980s saw the company rise to the top with the largest fleet of passenger ships in the world which introduced the name change to Costa Cruises by 1986. Costa Cruises underwent a sale agreement to Carnival Corporation in 1997 along with Airtours PLC and by 2000, Carnival bought the remaining interest taking over full control.

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Cunard Line

Founded in 1840 as the British and North American Royal Mail Steam-Packet Company, the line had four pioneer paddle steamers operating. For the subsequent next 30 years, Cunard had the fastest Atlantic voyage available when compared to its competition, White Star Line and Inman Line. In 1879, the first was reorganized to raise capital and was renamed to Cunard Steamship Company, Ltd. During the Great Depression, Cunard was offered loans from the British Government to complete the construction of Queen Mary and to build a second ship, Queen Elizabeth on the condition that the line merge with White Star Line. By 1947, Cunard purchased the remaining third of White Star’s shares and reverted the name of the company back to Cunard Line. The company had grown to 12 ships in the mid-1950s as they performed mainly transatlantic sailings, however with the introduction of jet airliners, the company was forced to downsize their fleet focusing on summer transatlantic voyages for holiday makers. 1998 saw the acquisition of Cunard by Carnival Corporation. Currently, Cunard is the only shipping company that operates a scheduled passenger service between Europe and North America.

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Holland America Line

Rotterdam, Netherlands saw the introduction of Holland-Amerika Lijn in 1873. Up until 1989, it operated as a Dutch shipping line, a passenger line, a cargo line and a cruise line operating primarily between the Netherlands and North America. Part of its history saw the transport of many hundreds of thousands of emigrants from the Netherlands to North America. In 1989 Holland America Line was purchased by Carnival Corporation, transitioning the headquarters to Seattle. They reintroduced the transatlantic crossings for the first time in over 40 years in 2011 and they offer “Grand Voyages” which are sailings which last more than 60 days.

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P&O Cruises

Dating back to 1834, there was a ship broker and a sailor who formed an association with a steamship owner from Dublin. In 1837, the trio won a contract to transport mail and passengers from England to the Iberian Peninsula, which created the Peninsular Steam Navigation Company. In 1840, their company merged with the Transatlantic Steam Ship Company and took their operations to the Orient, forming the Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O). Four years later, P&O expanded its passenger operations from strict transportation to include leisure cruising, sailing from England to the Mediterranean, the first of their kind. The transportation of passengers via ship was threatened by the increasingly popular air travel in the mid-1900s. By the 1970s, P&O dedicated all passenger operations to leisure cruising and by 1977, officially changed its name to P&O Cruises. After operating for several years under the P&O Cruises name as a leisure cruising company, in 2000 they decided to divest all cruise operations and formed a new parent company named P&O Princess Cruises, which now owned P&O Cruises. By 2003, the ownership of P&O Cruises changed one last time when P&O Princess Cruises merged with Carnival Corporation to form Carnival Corporation & plc.

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P&O Cruises Australia

Originating from the passenger division of Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, P&O was the first company to operate passenger routes on ship to Australia in 1932. These routes to Australia evolved into cruise holidays and it helped P&O adopt its brand name of P&O Cruises, with the Australian service taking on the P&O Cruises Australia name. The line acquired its first ship in the 1980s. Following the move to divest all of its cruise ship operations in 2000, the line was shifted to be operated under P&O Princess Cruises until 2003 when the head company merged with Carnival Corporation to form Carnival Corporation & plc.

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Princess Cruises

Starting in 1965, Princess Cruises chartered a Canadian Pacific Limited Alaska cruise ship called the Princess Patricia for Mexican Riviera cruises during the winter. The iconic logo wasn’t introduced on a ship until 1967 on the Princess Italia. In 1974, Princess Cruise Lines was acquired by Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company (P&O) with the transfer of the Spirit of London and getting renamed Sun Princess. During that same year, P&O purchased two ships and shifted them to the Princess division marking the start of The Love Boat television series. An acquisition of Sitmar Line by P&O Princess Cruises in 1988 saw the transfer of three new Sitmar ships to the Princess brand. In an attempt to modernize their fleet, the older, second-hand ships sailing with Princess were transferred to P&O Cruises and P&O Australia, which made way for the Grand-class of ships in 1998. As part of the merger in 2003, Princess Cruises was transferred to Carnival Corporation & plc with previous parent P&O.

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Seabourn Cruise Line

Founded in 1987, the ultra-luxury cruise line, Seabourn set sail with its first ship called Seabourn Pride within one year. Carnival Corporation swooped up a 25% stake in Seabourn in 1991 and increased that amount to 50% by 1996, thereby providing enough capital to purchase a third vessel. The remaining 50% was purchased by Carnival in 1998 along with Cunard and the brands were merged together, becoming Cunard Line. By 2002, Carnival moved the fourth ship sailing with the Seabourn name to their Holland America brand, reducing the fleet to the original three ships. At the same time, Carnival decided to demerge Seabourn from the Cunard Line. Currently operating 5 smaller ships in fleet, Seabourn is set to introduce two ships within the next two years to offer expedition cruises to less visited ports.

So many brands!

We hope you enjoyed Part I of the Who’s Who series and that you learned something new. Don’t forget to come back next week for the next part of our journey.

5 thoughts on “Who’s Who Part I: Carnival Corporation”

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