Rumours are circulating that hint at the possible demise of Iberocruises, the Spanish subsidiary of Carnival Corporation.
What was a three ship company this time last year is now due to downsize to just one- Grand Holiday- by the end of this year. The Spanish affiliate of Carnival Corporation has reportedly been hit hard by the continuing recession in southern Europe. Many now think that the one ship line will be wound up by the end of the year.
The first signs of fragmentation came at the end of last year, when Grand Mistral, the biggest and most amenity laden ship of the Iberocruises trio, was transferred over to it’s Italian sister company, Costa Cruises. Newly re wrought as the Costa NeoRiviera, the ship has now been assigned as one of two vessels offering the company’s NeoCollection, a series of longer, more intimate voyages on smaller ships, intended to showcase the culture and cuisine of the regions that they sail through.
And that left two. But not for long.
In a surprise move, Costa will also acquire the 47,000 ton Grand Celebration at the end of the year. Fresh from a seventeen day, 4.5 million euro refit in Genoa, the ship will operate her scheduled series of seven night, Adriatic sailings this summer, before going over to Costa- under the name of Costa Celebration- this winter.
And then there was one.
That ‘one’ being the sister ship of Grand Celebration, currently sailing as the Grand Holiday.
Originally built in 1985 for Carnival Cruises as the Holiday, the 45,000 ton vessel was the first real Carnival super liner. For many years, she was a hugely successful staple on the seven day Caribbean cruise circuit, out of Miami.
In line with usual Carnival policy, the Holiday was rotated out of the fleet as bigger, more amenity laden tonnage became available. She soon became one of the principal vessels in the fledgling Spanish satellite operation, sailing mainly in the Mediterranean.
Now the pioneering ship remains the last official member of the Iberocruises fleet. One ship operations tend not to last very long.
What then? Of course, the Grand Holiday could follow her sister ship, into the Costa fold. But for now, we’ll just have to wait and see.
If Iberocruises does indeed cease operation, it will follow another, smaller Spanish market operator- Quail Cruises- which was killed off by lack of demand in the local market. And, inevitably, it turns the focus on the biggest Spanish operator, the Royal Caribbean International chaperoned offshoot, Pullmantur.
As always, stay tuned.